Saturday, 23 June 2012

EURO 2012 Quarter-final: Spain v France

 Alonso 18,90
Spain start off in their 4-2-3-1 shape, starting 11:
GK: Casillas, LB: Alba, CB: Ramos, CB: pique, RB: Arbeloa, CM: Busquets, CM: Alonso , LAM: Iniesta, AM: Xavi, RAM: Silva, F9: Fabregas
SUBS USED: : Pedro/silva 64  Fabregas /Torres 66 Iniesta/cazorla 84 

France start off in a 4-3-3 shape.starting 11:
GK: Lloris, LB: Clichy, CB :Koscielny,  CB :Rami, RB: Reveillere , DCM: M'vila  RCM: Cabaye, LCM: Malouda   LFW: Ribery, RFW :Debuchy , ST: Benzema.
SUBS USED: Malouda /Nasri 65   Debuchy/Menez 64  M'vila /Giroud 79   

A Little look:
Spain go into today's game with the same starting eleven that played Italy; this meant we were treated to the joys of  a False 9 in action again. The French however, like every other team, had to change things around to deal with the Spanish. France have moved Debuchy forward into the front three and bought in Reveillere at right back, this change was made to deal with the width Alba gives along with trying to slow down the unstoppable Iniesta. They have also dropped Diarra for M'vila, along with brining in Koscielny for the suspended Mexes.
This game was played in the middle of the park and after Spain's goal this was just what they wanted. No one really got going in this game, and the shot count from the two teams who had the most shots before the game only added up to sixteen, with the French having only four of those. Even when Blanc changed things, it didn't work; he was right to start with the right back combo to nulifly Spain's danger down that side, it's just that they just didn't transfer the ball quickly enough, or took any real care in the passing. The change of tactics didn't do what Blanc wanted it to: he brought on Giroud, Nasri and Menez and started to play a 4-1-3-2 late on, with Caybe going from being the furthest forward to the deepest, but by then Spain had already got the game under their spell and played it out. 

France set up to stifle the Spanish left side, they wanted to defend down the right and attack down the left. Reveillere was told to keep close to Iniesta, who, in the first half, pulled him all over the park; he must have felt like a child who wanders off and gets lost in the night. Debuchy kept his eyes on Alba and the pair down the right did well to start with, but then a little slip and a good run from Alba- who found space for the first time- made no mistake with his cross and all their good work was undone. It was a lovely ball to the late arriving Alonso, who headered it back across goal. After the first goal, Alba didnt push forward as much, that is, until France made the change, and with Debuchy gone, he immediately pushed on again, knowing that Menez would not chase back. Arbeloa was given lots of space down the right but as usual did nothing with it. He also got beaten too often from players coming in from the wing. France started well at the start of both half's with a full press, although this was very tough to keep up and eventually the merry go-round of Spain led the French defenders on a merry little ride.

In the middle:
Cabye started off the furthest forward of the midfield three and put a shift in closing down. He drifted to the right when Debuchy was forced back, never really getting into the game as an attacking threat, but then again, this could be said for all of the midfield three. M'villa did the best he could in guarding the defense, he stayed behind the play at all times and passed the ball off well. Malouda played left of centre again, and was meant to drift out wide when Ribery came inside,-along with bringing the ball up through the middle- but ended up doing neither to any real standard. He did however, do well on the defensive side for his team, which maybe was more forced than Malouda taking the initiative. Iniesta has been great in this tournament, and this was behind Blanc's tactical thinking to play two right backs, which worked to some extent before the  goal. Iniesta found it hard down that side and Silva could tell, joining him at times to try and even the numbers, although Iniesta thought it best to start playing a lot more in central and deep areas, along with moving to the right. He tends to drift anyway, but you could tell that he wanted to get away from the tight marking. Alonso was just fantastic today and apart from his two goals, he made more passes than Xavi in the attacking third, which is an achievement in itself, along with a few good interceptions and tackles; even attempting one of his famous long shots. 
Up Top: 
Benzema, who naturally drifts out wide, was forced to spend more time out there than he likes, as there was just no room in the central areas. His first touch was lovely and he beat his man a few times, it's just that when he did, no-one was around. He did pick out Debuchy with a great ball across the pitch, but the attack broke down. Ribery tried to join him at times, but the link up between them in central areas was in different libraries, let alone being on the same page, and even with the tactical change he just didn't see enough of the ball. Fabregas drifted to the right a lot, which allowed Silva and himself to keep swapping roles. Torres came on and displayed the reason he was left on the bench. His job was to get in behind, but he spent  most of his time offside or giving the ball away, whereas he really should have taken advantage of the fact that France left spaces to get into as they were chasing a goal.

Full time:
The enigma that is France will go home, once again knowing that they never really got started and didn't do themselves justice, and with the way the camp is, it could still be a long time until we see the fruits of this talented bunch ripen. Spain keep plodding on at their own pace, knowing that when you have the ball, you cannot concede. They will be happy with another clean sheet and coming out of today's game with no one banned for the semi final. Arbeloa may be having some sleepless nights thinking about his club mate Ronaldo, who is surely going to give him the run around.
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