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European Championship

  • June 23, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Donbass Arena, Donets'k
  • Referee: N. Rizzoli
  • • Attendance: 47000
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Spain - France Preview: Del Bosque's side continue quest to retain Euro crown against Les Bleus

La Furia Roja look to continue their incredible finals record but will face the last team to have knocked them out of a major tournament in Les Bleus

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

SPAIN

Casillas
Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba

Busquets, Alonso
Iniesta, Xavi, Silva
Torres
FRANCE

Lloris
Debuchy, Koscielny, Rami, Clichy

Cabaye, M'Vila
Menez, Nasri, Ribery
Benzema

The 2008 champions come into their quarter-final after a disappointing performance in the 1-0 victory over Croatia, although that win helped Vicente del Bosque’s side to claim top spot in Group C.

The Spaniards have several players currently walking a suspension tightrope, with Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez all one booking away from missing a semi-final clash with Portugal should they advance. The big selection decision will be whether Torres will continue in attack, or whether Del Bosque will utilise a false nine once again.

France lost their final group match against Sweden, which led to England winning the section and Laurent Blanc’s side having to settle for second place.

Les Bleus will be without the services of defender Philippe Mexes after the AC Milan centre-half picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the defeat to Sweden. Laurent Koscielny should deputise in his absence.

The French also have doubts over Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery, who both missed training on Wednesday, but are expected to make the match, while Yohan Cabaye may be excluded after sitting out the last group game with a thigh problem. Jeremy Menez, omitted from the loss to Sweden, could return to the starting XI.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Spain have only lost two competitive matches since October 2006, suffering defeat at the hands of the United States in the Confederations Cup and Switzerland in their opening fixture of the 2010 World Cup.
  • Despite his recent struggles, striker Fernando Torres remains the top goalscorer in the current Spanish squad, having struck 30 times in his 96 appearances.
  • La Roja have amassed double the amount of completed passes of their opponents in their three group fixtures, achieving a record 810 to Ireland’s 198 in their second game.
  • Spanish playmaker Xavi broke the 20-year record of Dutchman Ronald Koeman as he completed 127 passes during the Ireland game.
  • France saw their 23-game unbeaten run come to an end when they lost their final Group D game to Sweden in Kiev.
  • The French were the last side to knock Spain out of a major tournament, when goals from Franck Ribery, Patrick Vieira and Zinedine Zidane helped them claim a World Cup 2006 last-16 victory.
  • Striker Karim Benzema (pictured right) has failed to find the net in the last four competitive fixtures that he has started for France.
  • Blanc is currently taking part in his fourth European Championship for the France, having been involved as a player in three tournaments.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
3PiquéDefender
15Sergio RamosDefender
-Arbeloa
18Jordi AlbaDefender
6Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
8XaviMidfielder
10Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
16BusquetsMidfielder
21David SilvaMidfielder
-Víctor Valdés
23Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Raúl Albiol Defender
5JuanfranMidfielder
-Javi MartínezMidfielder
20Santi CazorlaMidfielder
-Jesús Navas González
11PedroStriker
9Fernando TorresStriker
-Negredo
10Juan MataStriker
-Fernando Llorente
Players to Watch
Xavi
Xavi
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 8
Games Goals YC RC
6 0 0 0
The puppet master of the Spanish side, the Barcelona playmaker has yet to truly come alive at Euro 2012 after being largely stiffled by defensive opponents. But against a France side that likes to play football, Xavi could finally be able to weave his magic and orchestrate his team back to form.
Franck Ribéry
Franck Ribéry
Position:
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
With Karim Benzema on a bad streak when it comes to goals for the national side, it could be down to the Bayern Munich winger to help the French claim a semi-final spot, having claimed 10 goals during his international career and 16 this season for Bayern in all competitions.
Prediction
Both sides have been criticised for recent performances despite making it into the quarter-finals of the competition and their main strikers have failed to live up to their reputations so far.

Spain, however will have the edge as they have been able to control their three Euro 2012 games, even though they have failed to reach the heights they achieved in previous competitions, and this could be the moment when they turn on the style, especially against an attack-minded France outfit.
Editor's Prediction
Spain 3
France 1

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