The number of short, technically gifted midfielders in France’s squad bears testament to coach Laurent Blanc’s admiration for today’s Euro 2012 quarter-final opponents Spain.
Since replacing Raymond Domenech, Blanc has attempted to inculcate a similar approach of short, instinctive passing like Spain. The tactician however admits that his players will be up against the masters in that domain today.
“If we manage to have more possession of the ball than Spain during the match, it’d be an achievement for us,” said Blanc. “They’re very strong in that area. It’s a style of football that I like myself and not only is it nice to watch, but it’s efficient as well. It helps you win matches.”
Koscielny in for suspended Mexes
With Philippe Mexes suspended, Laurent Koscielny will step in alongside Adil Rami in the centre of a France defence charged with the onerous task of resisting the Spanish armada.
“We know about Spain’s tactical approach,” said the Arsenal defender. “They like to move around a lot. Sometimes there are no players in the centre and then, in the space of two or three passes, three or four arrive. They are a very difficult side to play against.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque acknowledged that his team should expect a very tough game against France.
“The French were the most complicated rival and the strongest team in Group D,” said Spanish mastermind del Bosque. “They have players who are very good technically and well organised. It will not be an easy match for us.”
‘French taught us a lesson in 2006’
Meanwhile, Spain striker Fernando Torres hoped the defending champions would make their experience count against France. The 28-year-old admitted if they succeeded, it would be what a more experienced French side did to the more fancied Spanish in the 2006 World Cup second round match.
“That day in 2006, France taught us a good lesson which helped us to grow up as a team, even if only a few players remain from the team that played France,” said the Chelsea striker. “We will hope that this time, our experience will tilt the balance of the game in our favour.”
Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.
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