Euro 2012 Quarter Finals Betting Preview – Spain v France

June 22nd, 2012 | Posted by in Euro 2012

Euro 2012 quarter final action continues on Saturday night between Spain v France. Below we have previews of the quarter finals of Euro 2012 thanks to our friends at Sportingbet Australia. This Preview by GMorgan for the game Spain v France.  Check out all the Euro 2012 betting odds from a number of European, Australian and International online sports books.

Spain v France – Donbass Arena, Donetsk – Saturday 23rd June

Spain vs France – Betting Odds from leading bookmakers and Online Sportsbooks

Although not perhaps quite at their best over the course of their three tournament games to date, Spain still comfortably topped Group C ahead of Italy and Croatia and remain very much on course to retain their European Championship title.

Next on the agenda for Vicente del Bosque’s all-conquering side is a date with neighbours France in Donetsk and given how poor the French were in their final group game against Sweden, most pundits and punters alike will be backing them to be heading home come Sunday.

Les Bleus coach Laurent Blanc admitted that his side were disappointing against the already-eliminated Swedes on Wednesday, but it should be pointed out that he did make a couple of changes in terms of personnel for that game and that they had looked pretty impressive in their two previous group outings.

They dominated for long spells against England in a game they could and should have won and then accounted for co-hosts Ukraine with relative ease, making their lack-lustre performance in the vital final group phase game all the more puzzling and unexpected.

Sweden’s Ola Toivonen is not exactly a world-beater, but he tormented the French back four all night, as did veteran winger Christian Wilhelmsson, while danger-man Zlatan Ibrahimovic was allowed to run riot and duly popped up with arguably the best goal of the tournament to date.

The shambolic defensive display lent weight to the pre-tournament claim that the centre-back partnership of Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami would prove to be France’s Achilles heel and it is perhaps not such bad news for French fans that the former will miss the Spain clash through suspension. Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny may well come in to replace the Milan man, but with Fernando Torres, David Silva and Andres Iniesta lying in wait on Saturday, he and Rami are not going to find the going any easier.

So can the Euro 2000 winners recover in time to spring what would be the tournament’s biggest surprise so far?

In all honesty, probably not, but Blanc may well feel that the Spanish remain a little suspect in the air at the back and subsequently hand a starting place to Arsenal-bound striker Olivier Giroud. While Karim Benzema has impressed with his movement and link-up play, he has yet to open his Euro 2012 account and may benefit from being allocated a slightly deeper role on Saturday which would also hand the French a vital extra body in midfield.

The Real Madrid man could well find himself joined in midfield by Johan Cabaye who is expected to come back into the side having missed the Sweden game through a thigh injury picked up during the win over Ukraine

One of the few positives to come out of the Sweden game for France, meanwhile, was the performance of Franck Ribery who looked a major threat out wide and with Jeremy Menez set to return in place of Hatem Ben Arfa, Blanc’s side have the potential to ask questions of both Spanish full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa and Jordi Alba.

It should be noted that Spain were also not at their best in their final group game against Croatia, but they still got the job done courtesy of a battling 1-0 win and managed to avoid picking up any injuries or suspensions to their key men in the process.

Coach del Bosque, however, got stuck into the Spanish press earlier this week for the “climate of pessimism” that he claims they have created, perhaps revealing that he is feeling the strain of the heightened expectation levels prompted by his nation’s unparalleled recent successes.

There have even been some suggestions that the current Spain side is boring, that del Bosque should stop picking two holding midfielders and perhaps grant his full-backs more licence to push forward. Yet if the Spanish haven’t been quite as easy on the eye as they were at Euro 2008, it may be at least partly due to the fact that they have come up against two strong, compact sides in the form of Croatia and Italy, both of whom defended very deep and in huge numbers.

When the reigning European and World champions did play a weaker team in the form of Ireland, they cut loose and destroyed them 4-0.

They may well be a touch more conservative and are clearly missing injury victims David Villa and Carlos Puyol, but Spain nonetheless remain the team to beat at this tournament and on the evidence we’ve seen so far, only Germany seem to have the potential to do that.

As far as early team news is concerned, Spain are expected to name an unchanged starting eleven on Saturday, meaning more bench-warming duties for both Cesc Fabregas and Tuesday’s goal-hero Jesus Navas, while in terms of historical pointers, there is precious-little to be gleaned from the fact that the last eight meetings between the two sides have yielded four wins for France and three for Spain, along with one draw.

The midfield passing battle in Donetsk should be one to savour for the purists and Spain certainly won’t have it all their own way.

Indeed, if France had a rock-solid back four in place to complement the abundance of flair and talent they have in midfield and up front, they would be well capable of causing a boilover here.

But the fact is they don’t and they won’t.

Prediction: Spain 1-0 France

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