Spain 2-1 France: The highs and lows!

Spain 2-1 France: The highs and lows!
Spain 2-1 France: The highs and lows!

Facing a Spain announced as superior, the surprise did not happen at the Allianz Arena in Munich for France, defeated two goals to one. The Blues let their neighbor slip away in Berlin, but can nevertheless nourish some regrets. Discover the highs and lows of the match.

The opposition was enticing. Both in form and substance, both by the past between the Reds and Blues and by the present context. That of a Spain which had just marked Germany with an iron (2-1)host of the competition, in the quarter-finals a few days ago and who has had everything going for him, especially his wingers, the youngsters Lamine Yamal and Nico WilliamsThe Frenchman too, in search of an answer in form and ideas, the Blues having not scored any goal in the game since the start of the competition.

A blessed semi-finalist – historic – who also found himself facing the Roja for some of his strengths. Defensive, like the poor figure of the Blues in attack, The Saliba – Upamecano hinge had not conceded any goals in the game. Now both myths have been shattered. Quickly, in a match that started tentatively, Randal Kolo Muani deceived Unai Simon with a header, on a cross as surprising as it was surgical from Kylian Mbappé (9′). But the story has resumed its course.

Et Lamine Yamalwhose early emergence drove the football world crazy, to stand out, he who was predestined to shock, a quarter of an hour later. Dribble, followed by a feint before curling with his left, the shot of the Barça striker, barely sixteen years old, landed a few meters lower in the right corner of Mike Maignan. The goal of the tournament. However, this was only the beginning of the Yamal show, which continued to traumatize the blue defense, until the end of this Munich night.

Which turned into a nightmare, as quickly as the Blues opened the score. Five minutes after the brilliance of his teammate, Dani Olmo, following a superb gesture that sends Tchouameni to the mat, lets loose a cross shot deflected – Mike Maignan was beaten – by Jules Kounde (25′). Surely the most beautiful of the first halves, what the 22 actors of the game offered us. Although the tricolor half was overwhelmed by the ease of the Spanish midfield to exploit the slightest weaknesses and the repetitive and tiring movements of its wing pair Williams – Yamal.

Coming out of the locker room and after listening to a seemingly helpless Didier Deschamps, the Blues played ball for five minutes, before letting their Spanish counterparts do the cooking. A serious mistake, being behind on the scoreboard. La Roja therefore did what they had mastered so much under Luis Enrique, namely sterile possession (62% for one shot, off target, editor’s note). France, for its part, is leaving Germany through the back door and, after having shown the face of a small nation, with the results of a large one.

The tops:

Lamine Yamal: The photo has been circulating on the web for a few days. That of Lamine Yamal, barely four months old, alongside a young Lionel Messi, who posed for an annual calendar. Even more symbolic when you see what the young Lamine Yamal proposed as a score, facing the Blues who were finalists in the last World Cup.

This cross shot that lodges under the skylight of an impenetrable Mike Maignan, his endless calls that have made all the left defenders of the tournament spin, this ability to eliminate so quickly and find himself in decisive situations (4 since the start of the tournament, one goal and three assists, editor’s note)… As for the jewel, the executioner is on his first attempt. He will have waited until the semi-finals to become the youngest scorer of Euro 2024, at 16 years and 362 days. Spain has its rare pearl.

Dani Olmo: His presence troubled the French midfield as well as its defense. In the last 30 meters of the French team, Dani Olmo played his recital. The RB Leipzig attacking midfielder made the break, scored his third goal – in a row – of the competition and demonstrated his rise in power. The providential man of Spain since the final stages has only lost eight small balls in 70 minutes of play. A performance to be transposed with the Euro of a certain Antoine Griezmann, whose particularities of the position he occupies under Didier Deschamps greatly resemble the responsibilities – taken and fulfilled – of the Spaniard.

The Spanish double pivot: And then further down, we eat caviar, distribute the pancakes and make sure that nothing turns into sausage water. Which was the case for France, notably thanks to a Spanish midfield that was as compact as ever, as clinical as possible (92% of successful passes between them), and brilliant as can be. The Ruiz – Rodri pair, which stands out as the best in the tournament, is taking on disproportionate proportions. To the point of forcing the French block to retreat, then conceding twice in the first half before depriving them of the ball for almost the entire second half. Que partidazo.

The flops:

Ousmane Dembélé: There is what we see on the screen, which gives us an initial idea, then the numbers, which tell us a little more about what our eye saw. The impression confirmed that Ousmane Dembélé, less sharp than against Portugal, missed the mark. Or, at least, was not up to the task of a match where Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams, on the other side, were blazing on the width. No shots, even fewer shots on target – de facto – one successful dribble out of two attempted. The problem is deep. A surge expected for “Ous” in Blue.

The French midfield: It’s a repeat. Against Poland (J3, 1-1), France already showed a very disappointing face without Antoine Griezmann, but especially with a three-man midfield – the most basic thing in modern football. However, this French team is used to being supported by a fourth player, often with offensive skills, to energize the game, create an extra man and be more incisive in transitions.

This first choice of DD sent France into the part of the table that we all know today, and which France could have done without. This evening, this same trio Tchouameni – Kanté – Rabiot was also aligned. The massacre took place against this Spain as divisive in a long and thin way as on the width. The excess of numbers was usual in the last 35 blue meters, the marking therefore too free and too messy. The possession was too little present (100 balls and some between the three of them) to be dangerous, despite very little waste.

Didier Deschamps: In these moments, the search for the guilty becomes a national sport. Between those who think that Mbappé is making excuses, that Didier Deschamps lacks inspiration and that the game proposed is a scandal, the reasons for this elimination collide. Despite the blue, white and red flags raised in the Allianz Riviera, Didier Deshcamps ultimately only saw red.

The fault of a disorganized system – not enough at least – for a Spain that should have been running after the ball to see its chances diminish. Antoine Griezmann, a key player in this team, could have brought the necessary experience to a match against La Roja. But dying without his ideas did not fit with DD’s strategic priority. Instead, he entrusted his hopes in the hands of a failing PSG trio, and left the French midfield without a fourth element.

The result is well known. Deschamps played the last cards up his sleeve, with Griezmann, Camavinga and Barcola, who came on with fifteen minutes to go. And sent Olivier Giroud on in the 80th minute as a final salute. The symbol of 16th century France – as adored for his character and history as he was reviled for his style of play – let Spain slip away helplessly in the final of Euro 2024. And let the lean period during a European Championship continue for France after a third edition.

So Spain will be heading to Berlin on July 14th to take part in its first Euro final since 2012. For La Roja, the big favourite since it buried host Germany in the quarter-finals, the enemy to beat will be England or the Netherlands, who will battle it out tomorrow at 9pm to reach the German capital.
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