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Quarter Final: Spain vs France
Saturday, June 23, 2012
2045 (local time), 1445 (EST), 0015 (IST)
Donbass Arena, Ukraine
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.
Last 3 games: D-W-L
Teams and Formations:
Spain(4-3-3): Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Alonso, Iniesta, Xavi, Silva, Torres
Coach: Vicente Del Bosque
France(4-2-3-1): Lloris, Debuchy, Koscielny, Rami, Clichy, Cabaye, M’Vila, Menez, Nasri, Ribery, Benzema
Coach: Laurent Blanc
“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