Euro 2012: Spain Will Start Title Defense with Convincing Victory over France
Spain will show the qualities that have won them two consecutive major tournaments in its quarterfinal match with France.
La Roja had never won the European Championships or the World Cup before taking the trophy at Euro 2008 and storming to victory at South Africa 2010.
Now, much of the same squad that led those two championship performances is still intact. This Spain side has talent and experience, and that will be evident against France.
The French team had been on a 23-game unbeaten streak before a shockingly poor match against Sweden, who had already been eliminated from the tournament. The Swedes won the match 2-0.
The Spanish also failed to play well in their final match against Croatia. Spain was not guaranteed a spot in the next round, but still took 88 minutes to get the decisive goal and gave chances to the Croats.
Even with the lackluster performances to finish group play, both teams have posted impressive statistics.
The two sides are tied for the tournament lead with an average of 20.3 shots per game. Spain is the clear leader in possession statistics and has controlled the ball 70.3 percent of the time. They also lead the tournament with a pass success percentage of 89.8, all according to Whoscored.com.
How will Spain finish at Euro 2012?
France has controlled possession 57.7 percent of the time in its three matches and has a pass success percentage of 88.3, which ranks them third in the tournament in both categories.
Both these teams are stacked up front, but it is Spain’s defense that will be the deciding factor in this game.
The French back line proved capable of major lapses against Sweden. Spain’s defense showed that they too could lose track of runners, but Iker Casillas has been there to save the day thus far.
Overall, the Spaniards have more talent along the back four. Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos in particular have provided stability in the defense.
Spain has world-class talent at every position, as well as plenty of skill in the reserves. France, in contrast, is not as strong on defense as they are in the attack.
La Roja is the best team in the tournament, and they will be one of the teams in the final match. Their run through the knockout stages will begin with a dominant display against France.
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