Spain vs. France  2 - 0

Article

Euro 2012 quarter-final: Spain 2 France 0

25 June 2012 19:16

Spain remain on track to defend their European title after a 2-0 win over France in their Euro 2012 quarter-final on Saturday.

A brace from Xabi Alonso was all that separated the two teams at Donbass Arena as Spain booked a meeting with Portugal in the last four.

France rarely posed a threat as Spain bossed the game in large parts, opening the scoring midway through the first half as Alonso headed in as he completed a century of international appearances.

Despite an improved performance in the second half France failed to find a breakthrough and received a sucker-punch when Alonso slotted home from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time.

Vicente del Bosque again started with Cesc Fabregas as his striker, and the Barcelona midfielder had an early penalty shout turned down.

Spain controlled the ball from kick off, passing it across the field and probing for an opening that proved elusive until the 19th minute.

Laurent Blanc will have been furious that when Spain did create an opportunity it came down his side's supposedly fortified right.

Iniesta threaded a pass to the overlapping Jordi Alba and he looked up and picked out Alonso at the back post who headed the ball back across goal and into the far corner.

Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema were doing their best to provide a moments respite for France but for all their endeavour they frequently found themselves running into dead ends and handing the ball straight back to the opposition.

In the 35th minute France got their first shot on target from a free kick after Sergio Ramos felled Benzema.

Yohan Cabaye struck the ball from 35 yards and it looked destined for the top left corner but Iker Casillas got a palm to it to stop it from hitting the net.

For all their possession Spain were once again creating very little.

A give-and-go between Iniesta and Fabregas enabled the former to get in behind the defence but his effort was blocked by a recovering Laurent Koscielny on his competitive debut for France.

France returned from the break in a far more positive manner, they were combative in midfield and began to commit greater numbers forward when on the ball.

With an hour played Ribery worked some space on the left and clipped a cross into the middle.

Mathieu Debuchy met it in the centre of the box but his header sailed narrowly over the bar.

With Spain reducing their urgency and the tempo of the game Blanc sensed the momentum swinging the way of his side made two attacking substitutes, replacing Debuchy and Florent Malouda with Jeremy Menez and Samir Nasri.

All night France had allowed Alvaro Arbeloa a lot of freedom on the right in an attempt to provide Ribery with more space in behind him on the left flank.

This almost paid dividends in the 71st minute when the Bayern Munich winger charged forwards and drilled a dangerous cross into the six-yard box but Casillas got a hand to it and gathered at the second attempt.

The substitutes failed to have the desired impact on the game however as the Spanish defence remained tight.

Vicente Del Bosque's side were awarded a penalty in stoppage-time when Anthony Reveillere brought Pedro down in the area.

Alonso stepped up and converted from 12 yards, sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way to complete his brace and give Spain a deserved win.

Article

Euro 2012 quarter-final preview: Spain v France

23 June 2012 20:43

Spain can move a step closer to retaining their European crown when they face France in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 on Saturday.

After years of underachievement on the big stage, Spain finally fulfilled their promise by winning Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

They went one better two years later, lifting their first FIFA World Cup courtesy of a 1-0 extra-time victory over the Netherlands.

And Vicente Del Bosque's team now have a chance to make history, by becoming the first country to win three successive major international tournaments.

It has been something of an underwhelming start to Euro 2012 for the holders, with Spain coming from behind to draw 1-1 with fellow quarter-finalists Italy in their Group C opener.

They cruised to a 4-0 win over a hapless Republic of Ireland, but were made to toil on their way to a narrow 1-0 victory over Croatia in the final match of the group stage.

Next up is a clash with Laurent Blanc's France, who performed inconsistently on their way to a runner-up finish in Group D.

Widely expected to top their pool, France dominated possession in a dour 1-1 draw with England, before cruising to a 2-0 win over co-hosts Ukraine.

Expected to brush aside already-eliminated Sweden in their final match, Blanc's men slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat, and have been duly punished with a daunting last-eight tie against the world and European champions.

Blanc was forced to confirm reports of a heated exchange between his players following the Sweden loss, raising the spectre of France's internal melt-down at the 2010 World Cup.

France failed to make it out the group stages in South Africa, and made headlines for all the wrong reasons when senior players orchestrated a revolt against coach Raymond Domenech.

Blanc dismissed the latest spat as the natural consequence of a disappointing result, but it remains to be seen how an underperforming France side can hope to topple Del Bosque's experienced team.

While Spain are yet to really turn it on in any of their matches so far, they are experts are retaining possession, and will be expected to starve their opponents of the ball once again at the Donbass Arena, Donetsk.

France must hope their centre backs can hold their shape, with Laurent Koscielny likely to partner Adil Rami in the absence of the suspended Philippe Mexes, while looking to the talent of Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema to provide an outlet in attack.

Spain meanwhile will rely on Barcelona trio Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets to control midfield, with Chelsea striker Fernando Torres favoured to lead the line.

A last-four showdown against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal awaits the winner, with the match to be played in Donetsk on June 27.