Torres, Debuchy & the players walking a suspension tightrope in Spain v France looks at the players on each team who are just one booking away from a ban that would rule them out of the European Championship's penultimate stage

Spain and France will have their eyes firmly set on a semi-final place when the two sides meet at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Saturday evening, but there are seven players lining up who must tread carefully, knowing that they will not be playing in the next round if they pick up a yellow card.

As it stands, two bookings accrued over the course of the three group matches and the quarter-final will result in a one-match suspension, with Uefa somewhat kindly wiping players' slates clean following the last-eight stage.


Fernando Torres
Xabi Alonso
Jordi Alba
Alvaro Arbeloa
Javi Martinez

Mathieu Debuchy
Jeremy Menez

This has been done to ensure that anyone who picks up a single booking in a semi-final match could not be banned for the final.

But at this point, the showpiece on July 1 is still a long way away, and the seven players walking a suspension tightrope in this match will have to be on their best behaviour.

Below, looks at those five Spanish and two French players who are just one rash challenge away from suspension. Expect them to be trying to get in Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli's good books on Saturday.


In their opening match against Italy, Jordi Alba made his way into Viktor Kassai's book with a late challenge, before Alvaro Arbeloa and Fernando Torres both joined him late on. Arbeloa was perhaps unfortunate to be shown a yellow card, as his challenge on Antonio Di Natale was more mistimed than anything. But Torres could have no complaints about his caution, as he caught Daniele De Rossi in the face with an elbow, and could possibly have been dismissed.

Xabi Alonso will no doubt be furious at himself for being in this risky position after he was shown a yellow for purposefully pushing Jonathan Walters off the ball during La Roja's comfortable 4-0 victory over Republic of Ireland. Another booking on Saturday could spoil what is his 100th appearance for his country. Javi Martinez was also booked against Ireland for an ill-judged tackle on Robbie Keane.

In their final Group C fixture against Croatia, Vicente del Bosque's side showed superb discipline to avoid picking up a single card, particularly with so many already risking a place in the last eight due to their aforementioned cautions. Nevertheless, Del Bosque will be concerned that five of his players are so close to missing a match as important as a European Championship semi-final.


Despite only having two players a single booking away from a suspension, Laurent Blanc's side must make do without one of their first-choice centre-backs, after Philippe Mexes picked up his second caution of the tournament against Sweden.

In their opening match against England, Les Bleus managed to secure a 1-1 draw without picking up a single card, but then in their second match against Ukraine, Mathieu Debuchy and Jeremy Menez, as well as Mexes, made their way into the referee's book for two clumsy challenges either side of half time.

Mexes' suspension means that Blanc has had to shuffle his pack slightly, and it looks likely that Laurent Koscielny will slot in alongside Adil Rami at the heart of the defence for the match.

Despite the absence of the Milan defender, Blanc will no doubt be the happier of the two coaches, particularly as three of Spain's five players already on a booking are defenders, the one possible problem area in Del Bosque's otherwise hugely-talented squad.