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Spain 08-13 vs France 98-00 – which team is superior?

Peter Staunton and Carlo Garganese go head to head in a video debate to decide whether the current Spain are better than the great France side from the turn of the millennium

They fought out a 1-1 draw back in October, and now France and Spain will lock horns once again, as first takes on second in Group I.

A swift glance at the history books, should you need to, tells you everything about this contest. Spain or France have won five of the last eight international tournaments they have qualified for; a booty of two World Cups and three European Championships in 14 years.

The build-up to the encounter has been dominated by talk over whether the current Spain side - the only in history to win three major international tournaments in succession - are superior to the legendary France outfit from the turn of the millennium, who followed up World Cup success on home soil in 1998 with European Championship glory two years later.

Fittingly, one of those great sides celebrated arguably their proudest victory in the Stade de France, the arena for Tuesday's clash.

Goal.com experts Peter Staunton and Carlo Garganese go head to head over the issue, with the former supporting Spain and the latter favouring France. Below they pick their best XIs from the respective generations, while they also fight it out in a video debate. 


 FRANCE 1998-2000

VS
SPAIN 2006-2013
 FABIEN BARTHEZ IKER CASILLAS
Sometimes erratic, but a fine shot-stopper and match-winner. Best goalkeeper at World Cup ’98.
Record caps holder and record number of clean sheets. Sharp reflexes and a unifying squad member.
 LILIAN THURAM  SERGIO RAMOS
One of his generation's best defenders. Fast, strong, a flawless tackler and great in the air. Excelling in a central role but made his mark in the Spain team as an aggressive, marauding right-back.
MARCEL DESAILLY GERARD PIQUE
Rock solid at the heart of the France defence. Powerful, competitive, lightning-quick and a beast in the air. Had to wait his turn for Marchena to retire but has transmitted his Barca form to the national team.
LAURENT BLANC CARLES PUYOL
Read the game like he possessed a crystal ball. Oozed elegance, and started attacks from the back. Inspirational, commanding centre-back who popped up with a vital semi-final goal in 2010.
 BIXENTE LIZARAZU JORDI ALBA
One of the first modern full-backs, bombing up and down the left flank from the first whistle until the last. An upgrade on Joan Capdevila and provides lightning support in attack. Has slotted in seamlessly.
DIDIER DESCHAMPS MARCOS SENNA
Tactically and positionally a perfect midfielder. A born leader as captain, who protected his defence. Naturalised Spaniard who was Aragones' reference point in centre midfield. Made Spain tick at Euro 2008.
PATRICK VIEIRA XABI ALONSO
The legs of France’s midfield, who despite his physical dominance also possessed exceptional technique. Capable of long or short passes and blessed with great vision. One of Spain's longest-serving midfielders.
ZINEDINE ZIDANE  XAVI
The best player of his generation, a creative genius who always raised his game for the big occasion. A serial winner with club and country, the Barca midfielder is possibly the best central midfielder ever.
ROBERT PIRES ANDRES INIESTA
Equally comfortable on the wing and as an attacking midfielder. A dribbler who made and scored goals. Performs when it really matters. Scored the winner at World Cup 2010 and was Euro 2012's best player.
 YOURI DJORKAEFF CESC FABREGAS
Often played as a support striker, but impressive in a midfield role too. Supplied and scored goals. Not always a starter for his country but decisive on the big stage when required. Versatile and effective.
 THIERRY HENRY
 DAVID VILLA
Faster than almost every defender during his peak, with the skill and finishing to go with his blistering pace. Scorer of five of Spain's eight goals at World Cup 2010 and four at Euro 2008. He was missed at Euro 2012.

So what do you think? Cast you vote in the poll below to have your say!

THIERRY HENRY

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