Spain and France will collide tonight’s in the third quarter final. Spain remain clear favorites to win against Les Bleus as they look to complete the mission of retaining the title. France had horrendous outings in their last two major tournaments when they were knocked out of Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup in group stages. However France have never lost to Spain in major tournaments and were the last team to knock La Roja out as well when Zidane inspired French side won 3-1 at 2006 World Cup. Soccerisma covers some key battles that can decide the outcome of the game.
Laurent Koscielny may well be in the starting lineup tonight due to Mexes’s suspension and Arsenal’s defender main task will be to stop Chelsea forward Fernando Torres. After turning on the heat against Ireland, Torres completely switched off again versus Croatia. Still it seems that Del Bosque prefers his senior striker over others. Torres on his day can be the deadliest forward in the world but whether he will be able to replicate his best form in quarter final remains to be seen. Koscielny who is more than a decent defender will face a tough task if Torres is in form.
Sergio Ramos will be completely aware of the threat of his Real Madrid team mate. Benzema scored no less than 32 times for the club last season but has not been able to replicate that form for his national side. Benzema was considered amongst the players who will compete for Euro golden boot but he has not scored a goal yet. French striker will be looking to put that behind against Spain. On the other hand Spain have been comfortable in defense having only conceded one goal against Italy. Ramos will be looking to ensure that record continues. This will be an intriguing battle as both players know each other’s game having trained for club.
Doubts are there whether Frenchman Diarra will start after reports suggesting a bust up between him and Nasri. Still he has been more effective than M’Vila for French side. He was able to keep Ashley Young quiet and perhaps faces the most difficult task of the competition tonight i.e. to stop Iniesta. Iniesta has arguably been the best Spanish player in the tournament, his direct runs, clever touches and defense cutting passes are a major threat and if not stopped then France may as well forget about winning.
Former Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa will be up against one of the best wide players around Ribery. Bayern Maestro poses a massive threat with his pace and trickery. On his day he can trouble any top defender in the world. Ribery was perhaps the best player for his nation in France’s 2-0 loss against Sweden and tormented Granqvist all game and was unlucky not to score or provide assist. Madrid right back Arbeloa is not the fastest defender around and will have to be on his toes to stop Ribery tonight.
David Silva is not having as impressive tournament as he had the league with Manchester City, still it will be the perfect time for him to step up tonight. Debuchy who had a troublesome second half against Sweden, is a booking away from suspension. Therefore, the Frenchman would have to be cautious in tackling and marking especially when up against the ever creative Silva whose dribbling skills can unsettle him.