Spain vs. France: Preview and match analysis
Odds: Spain (-133), France (+393), Draw (+249)
Total: Over 2 (-110), Under 2 (+102)
FIFA world ranking: No. 1
Recent results: 1-0 win vs. Croatia (Group C Match Day 3), 4-0 win vs. Ireland (Group C Match Day 2), 1-1 draw vs. Italy (Group C Match Day 1), 1-0 win vs. China (06/03/12), 4-1 win vs. South Korea (05/30/12).
Spain is the defending Euro and World Cup champions, and enter Saturday’s quarterfinal undefeated with a 6-to-1 goals for/against ratio. And yet, the world beaters seem to have dropped some style points from the media following an uninspiring 1-0 win against Croatia.
Spain scored late in that one and still doesn’t seem to have its lone attacker figured out. Fernando Torres looked fantastic against Ireland but squandered multiple chances as a sub against Italy and was practically non-existent against Croatia.
La Roja continue to dominate possession stats but quality finishing seems to desert them. This team misses regular striker David Villa.
FIFA world ranking: No. 14
Recent results: 0-2 loss vs. Sweden (Group C Match Day 3), 2-0 win vs. Ukraine (Group C Match Day 2), 1-1 draw vs. England (Group C Match Day 1), 4-0 win vs. Estonia (06/05/12), 2-0 win vs. Serbia (05/31/12).
France was riding a 22-match unbeaten streak before the disappointing 0-2 loss to Sweden, and things didn’t go over well with the players in the locker room following the setback. Team manager Laurent Blanc admitted there were some heated moments between his players after the match but said it’s all water under the bridge now.
Tread carefully. Remember, Les Bleus had a club mutiny at the 2010 World Cup and there isn’t a strong leader on the pitch capable of getting all the bloated egos checked at the door.
France is still a dangerous offensive side, but does it have the discipline to wait for the right time to push forward? Will we see forward players unwilling to run back and defend?
Tactics and formations:
Spain will roll out in its standard 4-5-1 formation with its five midfielders holding possession for most of the match. The only guess is what La Roja will do at striker. Will Torres start or will midfielder Cesc Fabregas play up in his place? A lot of people would like to see Fernando Llorente get a chance.
Projected Spain lineup: Casillas, Ramos (Jordi Alba), Pique, Ramos (Sergio), Arbeloa, Alonso, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Silva, Torres.
France plays a 4-2-3-1 but there could be some different personnel on the pitch against Spain. We know for sure center back Philippe Mexes won’t start due to suspension, which should bump Laurent Koscielny into the starting 11. Don’t expect to see Florent Malonda again.
Projected France lineup: Lloris, Erva, Koscielny, Rami, Debuchy, M’Vila, Diarra, Ribery, Cabaye, Nasri, Benzema.