2012 Euro: Spain vs France Preview

2012 Euro: Spain vs France Preview

  • Posted by Geoff Reid
  • On June 23, 2012
  • 2012 Euro, France, Spain

Can Spain continue their form against France and advance to the semifinals? (Getty Images)

By Geoff Reid

Spain vs France
Mentality is everything in professional sports, and this is no different. Both the Spanish and the French are coming into today’s quarter final clash in different places mentally it seems. For the defending champions after a sluggish start vs Italy in Group C, they’ve really picked up steam by destroying the Irish 4-0, and getting the better of Croatia with a late winner by Jesus Navas in the 88th minute. While Spain is a well oiled machine gaining speed, it seems as if France are going in the other direction. After an opening 1-1 draw with England, Laurent Blanc’s side followed up with the convincing 2-0 win vs co-host Ukraine. All seemed well in the French camp before their final group game where they suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sweden, who were already knocked out. On top of that, unrest in the team locker room two years ago during the World Cup in South Africa seemed to have crept back in this past week, with rumors of in squad fighting after the Sweden match. One rumor was that Newcastle United striker Hatem Ben Arfa and Blanc clashed, but all that was brushed aside according to assistant manager Alain Boghossian and that any frustrations after the loss was good for team morale, and it’s all been sorted.

For the first time in a very long time, some have been questioning Spain’s approach after manager Vicente Del Bosque’s bold strategy of going without a striker for the opening match vs Italy. The idea of the 4-6-0 formation then was to match Italy’s midfield, who are unlike typical Italian teams in that they’re central midfielders control the tempo of the match and keep possession, very similar to Spain’s style of play. Will Del Bosque do the same vs France? It could be possible considering the triple threat of Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, and Frank Ribery. The thing is, with this way of thinking, this cannot be a confidence booster for Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, who everyone knows has struggled since he moved to west London from Liverpool. He did get a brace against the Irish, but will Del Bosque have his confidence if necessary today?

France will have to make do without Roma defender Philippe Mexes due to suspension, so expect Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny to take his place. There was a chance that Ribery and Nasri would not be fit for the match, but they’ve both shaken off their foot injuries and will be good to go for Les Blues. France will know that in order to beat Spain, you must take your chances and Benzema will be responsible for that. He scored 21 goals in La Liga last season helping Real Madrid win the title, but has so far hit blanks in this tournament and he needs to provide now after having 17 shots on goal so far over three games.

Spain 2-1 France