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QF3 - Spain v France

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Euro 2012: Spain v France

  • Venue: Donbass Arena, Donetsk
  • Date: Saturday, 23 June
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live, highlights on BBC One and BBC Sport website

TEAM NEWS

Spanish boss Vicente del Bosque again looks set to start two-goal Fernando Torres in an unchanged side.

That would leave Cesc Fabregas, who himself has scored two Euro 2012 goals, on the substitutes bench once more.

France will be without suspended centre-back Philippe Mexes following his second tournament booking, Laurent Koscielny will deputise for him.

Yohan Cabaye is set to start after overcoming the thigh injury that saw him miss out against Sweden.

Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery are both expected to be fit for France to face Spain in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Saturday.

The two midfielders did not take part in Wednesday's training session, with Nasri nursing a knee injury and Ribery having picked up a blister on his left foot.

"They are doing very well," said France assistant coach Alain Boghossian. "They missed training [on Wednesday] to look after some little niggles."

_61089198_spafra.jpg

MATCH PREVIEW

"Iniesta is really impressing me. He's got so much influence in Spain's game. He reminds me of myself… but he is more pale than me!" Zinédine Zidane

When three-time World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane clipped the ball past Iker Casillas in the dying seconds of France's 3-1 quarter-final win over Spain at the 2006 World Cup, it marked the last international goal from open play of one the game's all-time greats. But not only was that a moment when the curtain began to come down on Zidane's career; it also saw the dawn of a new era. That strike is the last goal Spain have conceded in the knock-out stages of a major tournament, encompassing a run of seven games during their Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup triumphs as they became kings of all they survey.

Despite emerging from the group stage of Euro 2012 with the most goals scored (six) and fewest conceded (one), detractors are queuing up for some Spain-bashing - especially as Joachim Loew's young Germany side now appear to be flavour of the month. The classy Iniesta and co may not have been at their jaw-dropping best so far, but they have clearly demonstrated that they will take some beating. Croatia pushed hard to put them out in their final group match, but still the Spaniards kept calm to pocket a 1-0 win and secure top spot.

Whether they play with a recognised centre-forward or not, Vicente Del Bosque's men smell an unprecedented hat-trick of major titles. That alone will drive them hungrily into the knockout stages.

Next up are Laurent Blanc's France, who put in an erratic display in their 2-0 loss to Sweden in their final group match. That defeat was their first reverse in 23 matches, and reports of post-match dressing room unrest have fuelled parallels with the in-fighting that destroyed Les Bleus chances at recent major tournaments - most notably the 2010 World Cup. Blanc has assured the French media that calm has been restored but whether this is true remains to be seen? Eric Abidal's arrival, on invitation from the French Football Federation, could unite them and prove the FFF's trump card. The left-back underwent a liver transplant in April, ruling him out. But his Barcelona club connection means he has a foot in both camps; the whole football community will be delighted to see him.

The French have never lost competitively to the Spanish; including wins at the aforementioned 2006 World Cup, the quarter-final of Euro 2000, and perhaps most memorably the final of Euro 84 - when Uefa President Michel Platini was among the scorers in a 2-0 win. Still, as England proved against nemesis Sweden earlier in the tournament, these sorts of streaks do have to end sometime.

Head-to-head

  • Spain have never won against France in a major tournament (one World Cup and three European Championship encounters). It is six competitive matches in total.
  • Vicente del Bosque's men have won three of their last four games against France, all of them friendlies (the other match being the 3-1 World Cup defeat in 2006).
  • France are the only side to have beaten Spain twice at the Euros - excluding penalty shootouts (beating them in 1984 and in 2000).
  • Spain have never won a European Championship quarter-final in regulation time.
  • They will equal the European Championship record for of 10 matches unbeaten if they avoid defeat.
  • Spain were the only team to keep more than one clean sheet in the group stages of Euro 2012.
  • If selected, Xabi Alonso will win his 100th cap for his country.
  • France have reached the quarter-finals for the fourth time in the last five editions of the Euros. Greece (lost 1-0 at Euro 2004) were the last country to knock them out at this stage.
  • France are one of only two countries whose strikers haven't scored at Euro 2012 - the other being the Republic of Ireland.
  • Karim Benzema has had 15 shots so far at Euro 2012 - but no goals to show for his efforts.

Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Alonso, Xavi; Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas

France: Lloris; Reveillere, Rami, Koscielny, Clichy; Debuchy, M'Vila, Cabaye, Malouda, Ribery, Benzema

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Blanc risking f*ck a lot with this squad selection/tactics.

if they somehow do pull this off though my man's gaining SOME respect>>>>>>>>>

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That's the team?

Fuck off Blanc

See ya Les Bleus

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Fabzy up top again. Will bag a brace.

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carra, kean & martinez>>>>>>>>>>

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blanc picking the medias team

some french guy in the gym was telling man how much stick nasri has been getting in france and how everyone has been calling for malouda

the way the guy cussed out nasri as well loool

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Spain r pissing me off soldano would of the job France please win for football and not being a c*nt

Lmao at balotelli interview tears lmao

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Loool Mario is a bastard

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Nasri's been awful for majority of his international career though. absolutely hate the way he plays for France, hogging the ball and sh*t. top wanker *and it's not even the Arsenal bitterness speaking through me*

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do spain wanna win this the hard way or suttin? no strikers again,hmmmmm

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fab takin time to release the ball to Arbelo

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deeeeeeeep

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Great header.

Nice by Alba

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Smh poor slip

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Malouda just strolling along

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fuck missed it

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Liverpool selling Alonso one of the biggest transfer mistake of the 21st century?

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f*ck MALOUDA.

did not give 2 f*cks

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