With the conclusion of yesterday’s quarter-final, the semi-final line-up is almost complete as Portugal will face reigning champions Spain, while Germany are set to face the winner of today’s quarter-final match between Italy and England. There hasn’t been a 0-0 draw in the tournament so far, which has led to most people jokingly mentioning that today’s match is perhaps the most likely to finish goalless. On the other hand, everyone expected that Greece would go out at the group stage, and that Vicente Del Bosque would play Fernando Llorente...bearing that in mind, a goalfest seems just as likely as a bore draw.
Las night’s match largely played out as most people expected, with Spain comfortably beating France 2-0, both goals coming courtesy of Xabi Alonso. France set out defensively from the outset as Laurent Blanc looked to minimise Spain’s creativity, but they just couldn’t maintain the concentration required to execute his game-plan. Arguably the miss of Eric Abidal is to blame, but the first goal was a soft one to concede – at least when Spain are the opponents. A simple cross into the box from an impressive Jordi Alba, and of all players it was defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso surging in from deep to head Spain into the lead. France were not creating any chances, and clearly VdB felt secure with the lead, so he brought on Pedro (!!!!!) who went on to win the penalty that Xabi Alonso sealed the game with.
Spain weren’t at their imperious best, but still they won comfortably – against a top footballing nation no less.
The final quarter-final is perhaps the closest of the lot as a defensive England side take on the historically defensive Italians. England’s route to the quarter-finals has been far from impressive, but they boast the joint-second best group stage record with two wins (vs Sweden and Ukraine) and a draw (against France). Italy on the other hand scrapped through with one win and two draws, meaning that something has got to give in this match between two unbeaten teams.