Skip to main content

Spain's national soccer players attend a training session for the Euro 2012 in Gniewino June 20, 2012.

JUAN MEDINA/REUTERS

Spain must beat France in a competitive match for the first time if they are to reach the Euro 2012 semi-finals and the latest French squabbling can only have boosted their chances of finally vanquishing Les Bleus in a major tournament.

Off-pitch quarrels among the French players led to an ignominious early exit from the 2010 World Cup and officials and players have admitted that fur was flying again after Tuesday's 2-0 Group D loss to Sweden.

Holders Spain, by contrast, have presented a typically upbeat and united front ahead of the quarter-final in Donetsk, the winners of which will meet Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal or the Czech Republic in the last four.

Story continues below advertisement

Of the six tournament meetings between Spain and France, the French have won five, including a 2-1 quarter-final victory at Euro 2000 when Spain's Raul missed a late penalty and a 3-1 success in a last-16 clash at the 2006 World Cup.

Raul's successor at centre forward Fernando Torres believes his team learned a lesson from the World Cup reverse that helped turn them into world champions and said it was high time Spain ended their poor run against the French.

As well as Torres, goalkeepers Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina, midfielders Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta and defender Sergio Ramos all survive from the squad for the France match in Hanover six years ago.

DEFYING PREDICTIONS

"We hope that this time our experience will tip the balance in favour of Spain," Torres said on his personal website (www.fernando9torres.com) on Thursday.

"It's always a good time to end a negative streak and this national team is used to breaking records and defying predictions," the 28-year-old added.

"We are hoping that France do not rediscover their best form but if they do we will be prepared. Today, Spain is very tough to beat when on top form."

Story continues below advertisement

While Spain have a full squad available, France coach Laurent Blanc will have to do without the suspended Philippe Mexes and the inexperienced Laurent Koscielny will pair up with Adil Rami in central defence.

Blanc is expected to field Yohan Cabaye again in the midfield with Alou Diarra and Yann Mvila, with Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery playing with Jeremy Menez up front and Samir Nasri on the bench, at least at the start.

Real Madrid's Benzema, who knows the Spanish players well from La Liga, told reporters after the Sweden game that one positive about Spain's possession-based playing style was that there was usually plenty of space and France would be trying to exploit it.

"Spain will be the favourites, they are one of the best teams in the world," he added.

Midfielder Florent Malouda picked out his Chelsea team mate Torres, who appears to be coming back into form after a long fallow period, as Spain's dangerman.

"He ended the season very well and he will be looking to show he is one of the best strikers in the world," Malouda said on Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

"He is a threat. He can score two or three goals and blow up the whole defence on his own."

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨