Spain 08-12 v 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

The biggest game in the European qualification campaign for World Cup 2014 takes place on Tuesday in Madrid as reigning champions Spain host France.

The clash could be decisive in deciding who qualifies automatically for Brazil, with both countries joint-top of Group I with six points from two games played.

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. 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 98-00

Sometimes erratic, but a fine shot-stopper and match-winner. Best goalkeeper at World Cup ’98.

One of his generation's best defenders. Fast, strong, a flawless tackler and great in the air.

Rock solid at the heart of the France defence. Powerful, competitive, lightning-quick and a beast in the air.
SPAIN 08-12

Record caps holder and record number of clean sheets. Sharp reflexes and a unifying squad member.

Excelling in a central role but made his mark in the Spain team as an aggressive, marauding right-back.

Had to wait his turn for Marchena to retire but has transmitted his Barca form to the national team.

Read the game like he possessed a crystal ball. Oozed elegance, and started attacks from the back.

One of the first modern full-backs, bombing up and down the left flank from the first whistle until the last.

Tactically and positionally a perfect midfielder. A born leader as captain, who protected his defence.

Inspirational, commanding centre-back who popped up with a vital semi-final goal in 2010.

An upgrade on Joan Capdevila and provides lightning support in attack. Has slotted in seamlessly.

Naturalised Spaniard who was Aragones' reference point in centre midfield. Made Spain tick at Euro 2008.

The legs of France’s midfield, who despite his physical dominance also possessed exceptional technique.

The best player of his generation, a creative genius who always raised his game for the big occasion.

Equally comfortable on the wing and as an attacking midfielder. A dribbler who made and scored goals.

Often played as a support striker, but impressive in a midfield role too. Supplied and scored goals.

Faster than any defender during his peak, with the skill and finishing to go with his blistering pace.

Capable of long or short passes and even aggressive too. One of Spain's longest-serving midfielders.

A serial winner with club and country, the Barca midfielder is possibly the best central midfielder ever.

Performs when it really matters. Scored the winner at World Cup 2010 and was Euro 2012's best player.

Not always a starter for his country but decisive on the big stage when required. Versatile and effective.

Scorer of five of Spain's eight goals at World Cup 2010 and four at Euro 2008. He was missed at Euro 2012.

Which team do you think is superior - France 98-00 or Spain 08-12? Have your say in the comments section below and vote in our poll.