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Spain vs. France: Preview and Match Analysis

Spain vs. France: Preview and Match Analysis

Spain vs. France: Preview and Match Analysis
By Ashton Grewal

Odds: Spain (-133), France (+393), Draw (+249)

Total: Over 2 (-110), Under 2 (+102)

About Spain:

FIFA world ranking:
No. 1

Recent results: 1-0 win vs. Croatia (Group C Match Day 3), 4-0 win vs. Ireland (Group C Match Day 2), 1-1 draw vs. Italy (Group C Match Day 1), 1-0 win vs. China (06/03/12), 4-1 win vs. South Korea (05/30/12).

Spain is the defending Euro and World Cup champions, and enter Saturday’s quarterfinal undefeated with a 6-to-1 goals for/against ratio. And yet, the world beaters seem to have dropped some style points from the media following an uninspiring 1-0 win against Croatia.

Spain scored late in that one and still doesn’t seem to have its lone attacker figured out. Fernando Torres looked fantastic against Ireland but squandered multiple chances as a sub against Italy and was practically non-existent against Croatia.

La Roja continue to dominate possession stats but quality finishing seems to desert them. This team misses regular striker David Villa.

About France:

FIFA world ranking:
No. 14

Recent results: 0-2 loss vs. Sweden (Group C Match Day 3), 2-0 win vs. Ukraine (Group C Match Day 2), 1-1 draw vs. England (Group C Match Day 1), 4-0 win vs. Estonia (06/05/12), 2-0 win vs. Serbia (05/31/12).

France was riding a 22-match unbeaten streak before the disappointing 0-2 loss to Sweden, and things didn’t go over well with the players in the locker room following the setback. Team manager Laurent Blanc admitted there were some heated moments between his players after the match but said it’s all water under the bridge now.

Tread carefully. Remember, Les Bleus had a club mutiny at the 2010 World Cup and there isn’t a strong leader on the pitch capable of getting all the bloated egos checked at the door.

France is still a dangerous offensive side, but does it have the discipline to wait for the right time to push forward? Will we see forward players unwilling to run back and defend?

Tactics and formations:

Spain will roll out in its standard 4-5-1 formation with its five midfielders holding possession for most of the match. The only guess is what La Roja will do at striker. Will Torres start or will midfielder Cesc Fabregas play up in his place? A lot of people would like to see Fernando Llorente get a chance.

Projected Spain lineup: Casillas, Ramos (Jordi Alba), Pique, Ramos (Sergio), Arbeloa, Alonso, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Silva, Torres.

France plays a 4-2-3-1 but there could be some different personnel on the pitch against Spain. We know for sure center back Philippe Mexes won’t start due to suspension, which should bump Laurent Koscielny into the starting 11. Don’t expect to see Florent Malonda again.

Projected France lineup: Lloris, Erva, Koscielny, Rami, Debuchy, M’Vila, Diarra, Ribery, Cabaye, Nasri, Benzema.

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Re: Spain vs. France: Preview and Match Analysis

Euro Cup Quarterfinals

Spain vs. France

The EURO 2012 quarterfinals continue on Saturday as current champions Spain take on France in what should be a close encounter between the two sides. Spain is certainly the favorite to win this match, but there are certain aspects about the Spanish that some people overlook and ignore. They have not been entirely convincing in the group stage, picking up a last ditch win against Croatia as well as tying with the Italians.
The French may be a bit disappointed with themselves that they did not finish atop Group D, having lost to the Swedes 2-0 in their final group game. Nonetheless, while both sides did show a bit of imperfection in the group stages, they possess the quality and mindset to perform extremely well alongside Europe's elite. A tactical and mental battle will surely undergo on Saturday, with both sides knowing exactly what is at stake.

It will be interesting to see how each side's contrasting playing styles will pan out during the match. Spain traditionally runs a 4-3-3, with an emphasis on short passing and possession retention. On the other hand, France utilizes a 4-2-3-1 formation and has a lethal counter-attacking side due to the pace of Ribery, Nasri and others. The battle during the match will surely be in midfield. France knows that it will have minimal ball possession, and so will set up to catch Spain on the counter, as the side likes to get numbers forward.

The Spanish on the other hand, will keep the ball until they deem necessary to strike. For Spain to succeed, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas must continue their excellent form in the tournament, with Silva contributing three assists as well as one goal, and the latter scoring two goals. Vicente Del Bosque will need to set up his side with the right balance and discipline, as Spain will certainly look to strike first, but at the same time, not concede. France will look to the services of tricky winger Franck Ribery to supply lone striker Karim Benzema. It will be important for France to have its striker make runs behind Spain's back line, but this will be a tough task as Spain's possession will certainly cause Benzema to drop deeper to be involved in the attack.

Spain will need to show its versatility, as the side is sometimes plagued by a natural instinct to pass in excess. Reminiscent of club team Arsenal, the Spanish have no plan B, and if passing their opponents to death does not work, they lack that X-factor to win the match. France will need to be disciplined at the back, especially since the side's defensive line has not looked its best in recent years. The left-back in decline, Patrice Evra, as well as unconvincing center-back Philippe Mexes will both need to fight off Spain's resilience and quality.

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