Zinedine Zidane will be celebrating his 40th birthday as France confronts Spain at the third quarterfinal of the 2012 Euro Cup. Spain has emerged as the champion in Group C, while France as the runner-up in Group D. Whoever wins today is going to face Portugal in the semi-final. The two teams have met 30 times before this, with Spain winning 13 of them and France 11. The last time Spain was eliminated from the knockout stage of a major tournament was by France in the 2006 World Cup. Spain has never defeated France in a major tournament.
Although the Spanish team is full of confidence having won their last two games, including a thumping 4-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland, their defense is yet to be tested against a formidable attack. Although they remained clean sheets in the last two games, with Italy in the first game, the Spanish defense had to concede a goal. It will be interesting to see how the Spanish can handle Nasri, Ribery and Benzama.
On the other hand, the French will be going to the match in a dilapidated condition after losing their last group league game against Sweden. It was even reported that the dressing room of the 1998 World Cup Champions had some row following the defeat. Further concern for the French will be their key players, Ribery and Nasri, both of whom missed the training on Wednesday. Overall, it is still advantage Spain; however, history is with France, and if they have the luck, they might pave the exit for the defending champions.
The Spanish have won their last two games with a 4-0 victory over Ireland and 1-0 over Croatia. However, their game against the Croats was criticized.
Last 3 games: D-W-W
The French drew the first match with England, won against hosts Ukraine and were defeated to Sweden.
“Spain are a little bit further on than us and will have 65 to 70% of the possession in a game. That is a problem for any side to deal with.” ~~ Laurent Blanc
“We are modest, but still optimistic” ~~~ Del Bosque
German Flair against Greek Grit
Quarter Final: Germany vs Greece
Friday, 22 June 2012
2045 (local time); 1445(EST); 0015(IST)
PGE Arena, Gdansk
The EURO quarterfinals are upon us and Germany take on Greece in the second of them. Nothing could contrast the routes that these two nations have taken to reach this stage. The Germans outperformed the Dutch and the Portuguese and then came 1 goal away from being eliminated by Denmark in the 3rd match, only to win it in the final 10 minutes. Germany thus remained the only team with a 100% record in the European championships. That they managed it in the so called “Group of Death” outlines their credentials quite clearly. It is a team full of confidence in their ability and one that thinks their time has come. The decision of Joachim Löw to bench Miroslav Klose and start with Mario Gomez has paid fruits as the striker has scored 3 goals. Klose though is expected to start this match. Bastian Schweinsteiger has had a wonderful tournament guiding the midfield and Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber has been rocks in the defense.
The Greeks have played with ‘so-called German’ tenacity in this tournament. Down a man and a goal, they almost won their opener and only a penalty miss would stop them. They lost to the Czechs, but in an improbable display, beat Russia, one of the most enterprising teams of the tournament. They have shown spunk and their attitude has been commendable in coming back from the brink. The team spirit has been exemplary and it would be another match where they have to overreach themselves, if they are to advance to the semifinals. They will be without their captain Karagounis, but expect someone else to fill in for him and do that job.
The Germans are overwhelming favourites for the match and with the personnel at their disposal, should win this. Only the Greeks have shown how they can withstand the severest pressure and then win it when you least expect them – a very classical German feature.
One would expect, the match to have goals, however if there is only one goal, it very well be from a Greek player (as was in this ‘match’ )