Simply put, France was no match for Spain. Laurent Blanc surprised everyone by leaving out Samir Nasri, Alou Diarra and Jeremy Menez and opted for a double-switch at the right flank, to nullify the threat of Jordi Alba-Andres Iniesta combine, with Mathieu Debuchy starting ahead of right-back Anthony Reveillere.
Despite having a poor tournament, Florent Malouda was given a defensive role in the centre of midfield. The move left forwards Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema alone in the offensive zone.
The French coach thought by nullifying Alba, Spain would get congested and predictable in midfield. The team neither stifled the threat down the left nor played its own game effectively.
Meanwhile, Spain overloaded the right side of the field with Alvaro Arbeloa and David Silva forcing Ribery to track back and help out Gael Clichy. Ribery’s forward runs were shut out by Sergio Busquets and Benzema was left isolated. France could barely string two passes together and its first-half efforts on goal were restricted to two free-kicks.
The Les Blues improved marginally in the second half with Ribery moving to the centre to combine with substitutes Samir Nasri and Jeremy Menez. France almost found an equaliser but Debuchy headed over a rare chance. After that effort, France did not look like it had either the belief or ability to equalise.
With much of the focus on Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta, Xabi Alonso benefited and made clever forward runs. He helped control much of this game and he rightly decided it too.
Keywords: Euro 2012