Spain and France meet in the Euro quarter-finals on Saturday and to help preview the game I have brought in two experts on Spanish football, Ben Crump and Jon.
Ben writes for Inside Spanish Football – The Home of La Liga. Inside Spanish Football offers all the latest news, gossip, results, blogs, opinion and highlights from La Liga, Segunda and the Spanish national team.
Jon writes for La Liga News always the latest news and reviews from the Spanish football league.
Onto the questions:
1. As expected Spain won its group, but have you been happy with how Spain has played in the first three games?
Ben: To be truthful, Vicente del Bosque and the Spanish players will all be a little frustrated with the way other teams have restricted them but all in all, I think they have done well. They have only conceded one and are playing attractive stuff. Still, I think they have another level.
Jon: No, I don’t feel that the national side has been playing at the same level that they showed in 2010 or 2008 when they were at their finest. However with the style of play and performances they have demonstrated in the previous four years it would very hard task to keep that level up.
2. Who has been Spain’s best player so far?
Ben: Without a doubt, Andres Iniesta. His style, skill and ability to take on players is up their with Leo Messi. Spain’s big game player without a doubt
Jon: Iniesta, Quite frankly the style of football and the way the team plays just wouldn’t have any meaning if the ball doesn’t pass through his feet, the player is just outstanding.
3. Who has been the biggest disappointment for Spain far?
Ben: So far, Xabi Alonso has not played too well and I think he knows that but with the Barcelona connection he often gets by-passed. Alvaro Arbeloa is slowly improving but can drift in games
Jon: Arbeloa, He has come into the national side after having a very bad season at Real Madrid and seems to be demonstrating the same in the national side. The problem is that there isn’t a good enough right back in the Spanish squad to replace him, it is a weakness the side has.
4. Everyone was expecting Spain to play England in the quarter finals and instead they get France . Is France an easier or harder opponent than England?
Ben: In the tournament, a tournament like this their are no easy games. Every game is a final and Spain know that. France drew with England and are just as good.
Jon: France are a stronger side than England they have a better attacking unit and they look more comfortable on the ball, they are a superior side and a trickier opponent than England, However England always play with their heart on their sleeve and this year they have the capability to defeat some very strong sides.
5. What French player do you worry most about?
Ben: Karim Benzema, we all know about him from his brilliant season with Real Madrid but hopefully Ramos can keep him quiet
Jon: Nasri, He is always very consistent and a hidden player who has the potential to pop up and score and create chances and any moment.
6. What sort of game do you expect Sunday? Will Torres start up-front for Spain?
Ben: I expect Spain to come out and get an early goal. They will keep the ball because they always do but will need more urgency at this stage of the tournament. For me, I would start Torres and Cesc Fabregas. Maybe leave Silva on the bench. Cesc has been brilliant and Torres always has a point to prove
Jon: I expect to see Spain playing their tick-taca style that taken them to the level that they are now, they will have a lot of the possession like always and create a lot of chances. Torres will start, he still needs to get his own confidence back and win back that of the fans, this will take time, he also has had a difficult season, but he is a player with so much ability and can turn a game at any moment.
7. What will the final score be?
Ben: Let’s just say I think a lot of sangria will be drunk on Saturday night in celebration
Jon: 2-1 Spain, I could see the French scoring first and a very tight nerve racking game that could go down to the final minutes or even extra time.
My thanks to Ben and Jon for taking the time to answer my questions.