Luis de la Fuente’s Spain faces tournament specialists France in today’s semi-final in Munich.

Spain lit up Euro 2024, winning all five games while scoring 11 goals. The team is just one win away from the final.

However, to get there, Spain will need to go through France who, while not impressive in Germany, has shown expertise and experience at major tournaments to navigate its way to the final four.

France only scored three goals during Euro 2024, none of which came from general play.

Misfiring captain Kylian Mbappe, playing in a specialized mask due to a broken nose sustained in the opening fixture against Austria, has scored from the spot once, while the French benefited from two own goals.

‘We’re in the Semi-Finals’

With a 25-year-old captain and one of the youngest squads at Euro 2024, it is easy to overlook how the French have established themselves as the dominant force in European football over the past decade.

Since a quarter-final defeat by eventual champions Germany at the 2014 World Cup, France made the final at every major tournament, other than Euro 2020.

This run includes a World Cup triumph in 2018 and a loss on penalties to Argentina in Qatar four years later, along with an extra-time defeat by Portugal at Euro 2016 on home soil.

The importance of France’s experience at major tournaments has been clear in Germany. Despite a run to the semis, the French have failed to impress.

France is yet to score from general play, with only Mbappe’s penalty and two own goals in the plus column.

That 1-0 loss to Germany, just over 10 years ago, was their last defeat in regulation time at a major competition.

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot said that France had full faith, even if they are yet to light the tournament on fire.

“Even if we’ve had difficulties, we’re in the semi-finals.”

A self-described pragmatist, coach Deschamps said on Monday that results are what matters at major tournaments.

“Maybe it’s not the same as it was in the past, but we do have the capability to spark emotions and make lots of French men and women happy with our results.”

‘A Nice Spectacle’ 

De la Fuente shot down suggestions that France was boring, but said that Spain’s game plan “is closer to a nice show, a nice spectacle, if we do it right.”

Spain scored 11 goals through eight different goalscorers, posing threats across the park.

Spain’s coach echoed his counterpart’s statements, even if he admitted that “at this stage, it’s about winning.”

“France have a fantastic team. I enjoy watching football. I have fun watching football and it’s fun to watch the French.”

But with Pedri out of the tournament with injury and Spain missing defenders Dani Carvajal and Robin le Normand due to yellow card suspensions, France may sense an opportunity.

Coming in for Carvajal is right back Jesus Navas. At 38, Navas is older than the combined age of wingers Nico Williams, 21, and 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.

The Sevilla winger boasts experience as the last remaining member of Spain’s golden generation, who won two Euros titles either side of a World Cup from 2008 to 2012.

If Spain is to win today and book its spot in Sunday’s final, Navas may enjoy the rare honor of being part of the start of another golden generation of Spanish football.

With AFP

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