Euro 2012: Quarter-finals: Spain brush aside a supine France, 2-0

szólj hozzá: Spain 2 0 France
Samir Nasri gets the vote for the most disappointing footballer of this Euro. At least Franck Ribery can look back and say he put in the mileage albeit all in futility. But Nasri introduced in the second half to up the tempo and connect Karim Benzema to the centre showed no desire to impose his undoubted talent. He disappeared similarly against Ukraine and Sweden.
With Blanc opting to pair two right backs with Mathieu Debuchy joining Adil Rami because of Phillipe Mexes’s suspension and Anthony Reveillere positioned to his right, there was serious lack of quality down that flank. Leaving Ribery down the left as the one consistent attacking option, Spain showed no problems corralling the Bayern Munich winger through two former Liverpool men in Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso.
Alonso in particular stamped his authority on both ends scoring a double in his 100th international appearance. Spain laid a familiar chokehold in the first half through their republic of Catatonia distribution of the ball. Just when it looked like the familiar theme of a Spanish late goal would play out, Iniesta broke down the left and dinked a pass between two French defenders to an overlapping Jordi Alba, who burst through leaving a stumbling Mathieu Debuchy on the turf and then hung an inviting cross across the face of goal leaving a completely unmarked Alonso to bury a header to Hugo Lloris’s right. It was the 19th minute. In the 85th minute, Anthony Reveillere bundled Pedro off the ball as the striker entered the box and Alonso padded his resume by sending Lloris the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.
Spain had over an hour to fill the game between those two goals with its sterile domination and France had to abandon its Chelsea lite plan and start attacking. But apart from Yoann Cabaye’s free kick which Casillas took care off and a Debuchy header which sailed marginally over the bar, France at no instance looked threatening enough even as Spain tailed off its midfield precision. Blanc’s decision to introduce Nasri and Jeremy Menez did not provide the necessary lift. Vincent Del Bosque subbed off David Silva for Pedro and then Fabregas for Fernando Torres to revert to a more conventional and direct 4-4-2 from his starting 4-6-0 formation. The move materialized in the Alonso penalty.
There is plenty of criticism of Spain’s sterile version of tiki taka which is at odds with Barca’s tiki taka with its trademark eye pleasing forward urgency. But before we introduce another club vs country wrinkle, remember Barca have Leo Messi to provide all those delightful exclamation marks. Del Bosque’s perambulations with his attacking force is a result of having to choose between a misfiring striker and largely untested ones.
A note to Arsenal fans: Laurent Koscielny continues to impress. Olivier Giroud strongly rumoured to make an Emirates move so far has seen few minutes but didn’t really look impressive. Yann M’Vila, another projected Arsenal target was invisible and was subbed off to make for Giroud. M’Vila was one of the big reasons why there was no central presence with Benzema drifting deeper and deeper. A pair off Arsenal alums were also on display. Gael Clichy failed to make his bombing runs while Cesc Fabregas continues to remind us why we miss him.

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