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Euro 2024: Onwards and upwards!

Updated on: 09 July,2024 01:14 PM IST  |  Munich
Srijanee Majumdar |

Spain eyes a record-breaking fourth Euros crown, while France aims to join Spain and Germany as three-time champions

Euro 2024: Onwards and upwards!

Spain's midfielder #17 Nico Williams (C) and teammates attend an MD-1 training session at the team's base camp (Pic: AFP)

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Euro 2024: Onwards and upwards!

Spain and France, boasting a combined five Euros titles, collide in Wednesday's Euro 2024 semi-final in Munich with ambitions of extending their storied histories.

Spain eyes a record-breaking fourth Euros crown, while France aims to join Spain and Germany as three-time champions. Once overshadowed by Germany and Italy, France and Spain have emerged as dominant forces in recent decades, dominating major tournaments since France's 1998 World Cup triumph.

Since then, only four out of 13 World Cup or Euros finals have occurred without either nation. Spain has clinched two Euros titles and a World Cup, while France boasts two World Cup victories and a Euro 2000 triumph. Below are the decisive confrontations that will shape the journey to the Berlin final on July 14:

France's muted attack versus Spain's weakened defense

France, top scorers with 16 goals at the 2022 World Cup, have reached the Euro 2024 semi-finals without scoring from open play. Star player Kylian Mbappe, hampered by a mask following a nose injury in the opener against Austria, has netted only one penalty goal. France's other two goals came from own goals.

Coach Didier Deschamps defended Mbappe, praising his determination to make history despite not being fully fit. At Euro 2016, Antoine Griezmann was pivotal with six goals, double that of any other player, but has struggled to threaten defenses in Germany. Yet, against a depleted Spanish defense missing Dani Carvajal and Robin le Normand due to suspensions, France may find their breakthrough opportunity. Except for a match against Albania, the duo has started every game, with Spain conceding just once when they were on the field. The veteran Jesus Navas, 38, is expected to step in for Carvajal and face Mbappe's speed.

Also Read: Spain, a winning horse: De la Fuente after semis entry

Pragmatism versus positivity

Deschamps versus de la Fuente Tuesday's coaching duel not only pits contrasting philosophies but also starkly different approaches. Didier Deschamps, one of the few to win the World Cup as both player and manager, has guided France to three of the last four major tournament finals. Despite possessing abundant attacking talent, Deschamps prioritizes defensive stability through a disciplined structure.

France, scoring only three goals, has never trailed at Euro 2024. In contrast, Luis de la Fuente encourages Spain to play expansive football, accepting the risks of occasional mistakes. After their 3-0 victory over Croatia, de la Fuente highlighted Spain's versatility, with eight different players finding the net.

Kante versus Rodri in midfield

Rodri, Spain's unsung hero, rivals N'Golo Kante's pivotal role for France. The Manchester City midfielder provides control and composure, enabling forwards Yamine Lamal and Nico Williams to push forward.

Rodri has proven his worth with crucial goals, such as his equalizer against Georgia in the round of 16. Kante's relentless energy and defensive prowess have been integral to France's success over the past decade, disrupting opposition attacks and earning man-of-the-match honors in their first two games. Despite a two-year hiatus from international football, the 33-year-old reaffirms his indispensability for France.

(With agency inputs)

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