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Spain outclasses Les Bleus

By Matthieu Boisseau


The French football team departs from 2012 Euro after losing against Spain (2-0). Another disappointing performance from Les Bleus, who did not get near to posing any real threat to the reigning World and European champions.

In their last three matches, Les Bleus have given us a lightening tour of the full range of emotions which football can create; amazement, after a brilliant victory against Ukraine; shame, following the disastrous loss against Sweden; frustration, as Spain extinguished France's hopes of reaching the semi-finals; and, finally, anger, as in-fighting within the squad and bust-ups with the press again made the headlines.

Even if Les Bleus appear to have made significant progress since the traumatic 2010 World Cup campaign, and looked much more motivated than they did on Tuesday, Saturday's 2-0 loss against Spain revealed how much work there is still to do, not least to force the dressing-room egos into something resembling team spirit.

The toughest challenge for Laurent Blanc – or his successor – if they can tame the egos, will be to establish a strong and coherent defensive line, as Spain easily showed that it was Les Bleus’ main weak point.

Right after the kickoff, it was clear that Laurent Blanc’s strategy depended critically on a strong defense, with 9 players set up to block Spanish attacks. But Les Bleus’ coach could not imagine his plan would fail so quickly.

Spainscored a 19th minute opener with a powerful downward header from defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso. The Real Madrid player received a wonderful cross by Jordi Alba, who flew away from the stumbling Mathieu Debuchy.

France, so lethargic in the first-half, emerged with more ambition after the half-time break, as if they realized they were going to be going home with their heads bowed and their tails between the legs. But it was too late. With Benzema struggling to make any impact and wasting the few chances he had high over the bar, France had just one shot on target while striker-less Spain had five.

Facts are cruel, but the Spanish never had to push particularly hard to beat a poor French team and were in total control during the match. Cesc Fabregas’ teammates did not flick the ball around like in a training session as they usually do, but they did not need to be able to wrap things up with some ease.

The referee awarded Spain a penalty in time added on when Pedro tumbled over under a challenge from right back Anthony Réveillère. Xabi Alonso – again – converted it and killed off any lingering French hopes…

If Les Bleus avoided a repeat of the 2010 crisis, and made it out of the group stage for the first time since the 2006 World Cup, the manner of Saturday’s loss will be disappointing for a team that has so many talented players. But they never looked united enough to pass the test posed by the Spanish.

Spain– France : 2 - 0

 Spain: Iker Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, David Silva (Pedro Rodriguez, 65), Andres Iniesta (Santi Cazorla, 84), Cesc Fabregas (Fernando Torres, 67).

 France: Hugo Lloris, Anthony Reveillere, Adil Rami, Laurent Koscielny, Gael Clichy, Mathieu Debuchy (Jeremy Menez, 65), Yohan Cabaye, Yann M’Vila (Olivier Giroud, 79), Florent Malouda (Samir Nasri, 65), Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema


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