Spain v France semi-final preview – the good against the ugly

A tale of opposite sides of a coin as Spain and France face off in the semi-finals of the 2024 European Championship. Spain and France have endured contrasting fates in the Euros until the quarter-finals. The battle of the tournament’s best offence against its best defence is upon us.

Spain has provided maximum entertainment for the fans in each game in the tournament, playing free-flowing football and drawing accolades from fans and rivals. Coming into the Euros, they were not seen as contenders for the trophy but have proven themselves capable, slaying Germany, Georgia, Italy and Croatia and doing it while playing the best football so far in the Euros. Thanks to their dynamic duo of Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao youngsters, Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams, respectively, Spain has become a terror for opposing fullbacks in the wide areas. This young duo has managed to get the better of their markers often to deliver dangerous balls into the box and even create chances for themselves as they have done so far.

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France, however, has not been entirely convincing in how they have made it into the semifinals. Apart from a few solid displays from N’golo Kante, William Saliba and Jules Kounde, France are yet to spring to life in this tournament. Not scoring from open play has not been a good look for France despite their plethora of attacking talents. France, alongside England, was the bookies’ favourite to go all the way to the final, but the way they have shown up for the Euros has left little to be desired about them, sparking a lot of questions as to the state of the French side if they can go on to win it.

Munich will play host to two sides with different philosophies – one that wants to get on the ball and make things happen and the other which is comfortable soaking up pressure and hitting their opponents on the counter. As both sides battle for a place in the final of the Euros, it would be interesting to see how they plan to get the better of each other. Spain battled until extra time against hosts Germany before a late Mikel Merino header that sealed the deal. Spain would be without three starters – Dani Carvajal, Robin Le Normand and Pedri for the contest against France. France has the full complement of their squad and would look to test Spain in their weaker areas.

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Kylian Mbappe v Jesus Navas, Nico Williams v Kounde and Yamal v Theo Hernandez are a couple of one-on-one duels we would have to look forward to in this encounter as both sides play their most important game yet. Contrary to all expectations, Kylian Mbappe has not been as lethal as he is known to be since his nose injury in their tournament opener against Austria, leading fans to believe he has not made a full recovery and could be much harder for him to breathe as the game progresses which was evident as he asked to be taken off in the quarter-final against Portugal.

Spain is a fine advertisement for attacking football, launching waves of attack in quick succession, which has resulted in them scoring the most goals (11) in Euro 2024. France has not been impressive on the attack but has been sturdy in defence, letting in only one goal (a penalty against Poland) in over 480 minutes of football.

A battle between a formidable attack and resolute defence, it’s good against the ugly – all possibilities are on the table as Spain faces France in the battle of neighbours.

Author’s Prediction: Spain goes through after extra time.

The Author

Boluwatife Adenusi

Boluwatife Adenusi is a young football writer with a dynamic insight and a love for the beautiful game. With a fresh perspective and a genuine love for the game, Boluwatife is eager to share his insights and observations with fellow football enthusiasts. Boluwatife's writing showcases a natural talent for storytelling, bringing readers an insight into culture and tactics. Follow Boluwatife Adenusi on BackPage Football for his insights on football as it is meant to be.

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