Spain vs France - Match preview and prediction
The penultimate Euro 2012 quarter-final sees current holders Spain take on the 2016 hosts, France in a battle to find out who faces Portugal in the semi-finals. The Spanish come into the game continuing a fine run of games, finding themselves unbeaten in competitive football since their 2010 World Cup opener against Switzerland. France arrive at the game having just lost to Sweden but qualified after fine performances against Ukraine and England.
Spain continue to play the kind of football that saw them win the World Cup two years ago in South Africa after winning the European Championships two years before that in Switzerland. Their heavy passing game means that the possession stats usually fall strongly in their favour, in their opening 3 games the lowest amount of possession they had was 66% against Italy – the other two games seeing them take over 70% of the possession stats.
This is a fine warning to France, who will know that they will need to capitalize on any small piece of the ball they get. So far in the tournament, the French could claim to be frustrated by the lack of goals they have managed. Playing against a defensive England side they managed 21 goal attempts but only 1 goal, against Ukraine 16 shots getting 2 goals and finally 24 against Sweden without scoring – losing 2-0.
France will no doubt be looking to Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema to right these wrongs - the striker scored 31 times for the Spanish champions this season but has yet to carry this form onto the international stage.
Les Bleus will be without Philippe Mexes who is suspended but Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny will deputise. Injury concerns over Yohan Cabaye, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri seemed to have been calmed and all three look set to start against the Spanish.
Spain are expected to start with Fernando Torres leading the line once again, meaning Cesc Fabregas will likely miss out on a first team place.
Having played each other 8 times, France have run out winners on four occasions with 1 drawn and the Spanish taking the spoils on 3 occasions. In the last two meetings Spain have won 2-0 and 1-0 but worth noting is that the French have never lost to the Spanish in a competitive match.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Spain v France