Saturday 23rd June 19:45– Spain versus France
Watch it on ITV One in the UK with coverage starting at 7.15 PM. Highlights on BBC1 from 10.50 PM. The match will be played at The Donbass Arena in Donetsk.
Match Odds: Spain to win 4/5. Draw after 90 Mins 5/2 and France to win 4/1. All odds brought to you from Bet 365 and accurate as of Friday 22nd June 2012.
This match preview is a guest post brought to you by the brilliant Matthew Broadley, you can check out his blog over at http://broadley-speaking.
Spain, alongside Germany, would have been most people’s pre-tournament favourites, having won the tournament four years ago and the World Cup two years ago in South Africa. They have of course played in their imitable style, dominating possession in each of their games, they do however seem to lack the penetration of years past, this could be owing to the loss of David Villa to injury, whose goal scoring record for his country is impressive to say the least. Or on the other hand teams may have begun to work out ways to frustrate them, as Italy and Croatia did for large parts of the group games. A lot has been said regarding the false nine formation they adopted against Italy, and for part of the game against Croatia, its main success seems to have been in annoying Mark Bright amongst other pundits. There is no problem with this formation on paper but Spain lack the movement upfront of someone like Alexis Sanchez who works so well in the system at Barcelona, who lest we forget often play without an out and out striker. The often maligned Fernando Torres has had a good tournament so far, and I feel it would be wise to start him against France as they will need someone with good strength on the ball to challenge the combatant centre back pairing of Rami and Mexes.
France, coming into the tournament were on an excellent run of form, free-scoring in the two friendlies that preceded the tournament. They seem to have lost that now that the pressure is really on, against England although they had the majority of possession, akin to Spain they failed to find any real penetration in the final third, relying mainly on long range efforts. Benzema, who looked a good choice to be tournament top scorer, has flattered to deceive so far, not rekindling the form he showed at Real Madrid in the season just passed. Mathieu Debuchy looks to be a decent player, especially coming forward, the game against Spain will be the sternest test yet of his defensive capabilities. Similarly the French midfield will have its work cut out; one would expect Spain to dominate possession so it will be intriguing to see how Cabaye and co cope when they do have their chances on the ball. This game I feel will be a lot close than people might expect, but the Spanish should just edge it.
Predicted result: Spain 2-1 France