As unbelievable as it may sound, Spain haven’t beaten France in major competition for 28 years.
The two sides go toe to toe tonight in the penultimate Euro 2012 quarter final, and Spain will have revenge on their minds having suffered heartache against Les Bleus five times, in the Euro ’84 final, twice in the Euro ’92 qualifiers and the quarter-finals of both Euro 2000 and the 2006 World Cup.
The Spaniards will have to be on top form tonight if they are to see off Laurent Blanc’s men as they aim to inch one step closer to becoming the first team in history to win three major tournaments on the trot, having won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championships.
So, can the La Furia Roja inflict revenge on Les Bleus tonight?
France will be without veteran defender Philippe Mexes, who is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the competition. Mexes will be a big miss for France, who need all their experienced defenders to keep the likes of Torres, Fabregas, Xavi and Iniesta at bay. The 30 year old has 29 caps and will likely be replaced by Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny, who would be making only his fourth appearance for France.
Spain meanwhile have no complaints at the back, with Vincente del Bosque able to select from a full compliment. Spain were also the only team to keep more than one clean sheet in the group stages of Euro 2012 (4-0 vs Republic of Ireland, 1-0 vs Croatia).
If Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa and Jordi Alba continue to display the lean, frugal defensive qualities that helped Spain top Group C, they should have little to worry about at the back against France, who along with eliminated Republic of Ireland are the only two countries whose strikers haven’t scored at Euro 2012.
Click “next” below for part 2…
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