27 June, 2006

Spanish Byes: Spain 1 France 3

We have yet to see an upset in the second round, and it seems strange to be approaching this last match with the underdogs a team who were reigning World and European Champions at the start of the last World Cup, but the formbook shows that France have scraped through while Spain have made the game look easy.

France get at Spain from the start and don't allow them much time on the ball, but as in their previous matches their final ball is poor. Spain don't manage anything much better, but 26 minutes in Thuram brings down Pablo in the box. The referee gives the penalty despite French protests, and David Villa converts it with aplomb.

The next ten minutes are scrappy, but after 40 minutes Patrick Vieira plays a great through ball. Franck Ribery runs onto it and beats Iker Casillas, the defenders already taken out by the pass. The goal is wide open before him and France are level.

After a flurry of activity at the end of the first half, in the second half the play is cagey. Neither team can achieve any fluency and there are few chances. Luis Garcia has a header deflected over the bar. Joaquin hits the side netting. Sydney Govou puts one over for France.

On 83 minutes France have a free kick on the right side of the box. Zinedine Zidane pumps it into the box and after a bit of pinball Vieira bundles the ball into the net.

Spain have less than 10 minutes to save their tournament. They throw men forward, but are clearly tired and the pressure comes to nothing. In injury time France get an opportunity to counter-attack. The ball comes to Zidane, who moves into the box and casually steps past a defender before firing in a third.

Once again Spain have failed to live up to potential, but France are improving all the time. Tonight has been a solid, if not spectacular, performance, and they move on to face Brazil.

1 comment:

Livesinho said...

David Villa is just not a Spanish enough sounding name - he really needs to change it


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