Laurent Blanc named an extremely reactive team – but France neither stifled Spain’s threat down the left, nor played their own game effectively.
Vicente del Bosque had hinted he would make changes from the team that beat Croatia, though it was still a surprise to see Cesc Fabregas return to the side in a false nine role, meaning Spain played the XI that started against Italy in the opening game – an experiment that didn’t go well.
Blanc’s XI was a huge surprise. He named Mathieu Debuchy on the right side of midfield, practically given a man-marking job on Jordi Alba. That meant Anthony Reveillere made his first start of the tournament at right-back. Florent Malouda was given a role in the centre of midfield, while Samir Nasri was only on the bench. France had come to contain rather than to attack.
But their performance was remarkably feeble. Their gameplan from the outset failed, and Blanc then found himself unable to react effectively at 1-0 down. Spain weren’t spectacular, but they were clearly the better side. Read more »