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Spain vs France: Yamal vs Mbappe to give glimpse into El Clasico’s future

Football world tunes in to Munich’s Allianz Arena as Spain and France square off in a mouth-watering 2024 European Championship semi-final on Tuesday.

The two titans of world football lock horns at the grandest continental platform for the first time since 2012, when La Furia Roja dispatched the French 2-0 in the quarter-finals en route to their second European title.

Confident of replicating that success this summer, Luis de la Fuente’s charges head into proceedings fresh off crashing host nation Germany out of the tournament.

After a 1-1 draw in regulation, Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino struck home a mighty header deep into extra time to catapult the Spaniards into their second consecutive Euro semi-final.

But as eventual winners Italy proved their scourge at this stage three years ago, the Iberian heavyweights cannot rest easy ahead of this blockbuster tie.

Joint pre-tournament favourites France will be out to follow in the Italians’ footsteps and reach the grand final for the first time since an extra-time heartbreak against Portugal in 2016.

However, Les Bleus’ performances in Germany have flattered to deceive.

Despite setting up this titanic fixture, Didier Deschamps’ lads are the only semi-finalists yet to score from open play, with two of their three tournament goals netted by an opposition player.

France couldn’t find the net in a cagey quarter-final affair against Portugal but kept their composure in the shootout to end Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of winning his second continental title.

De la Fuente’s kindergarten destined for glory

With Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal and the Catalans’ transfer target Nico Williams leading the charge, backed by RB Leipzig playmaker Dani Olmo, Spain have displayed the best football in Germany.

La Furia Roja are the tournament’s joint-top scorers with 11 goals, alongside the eliminated Germany, which is more than triple the tally mustered by the misfiring French.

Equally impressive at the back, they’ve only conceded twice at Euro 2024, with Die Mannschaft’s Florian Wirtz remaining the only opposition player to beat Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon.

Spain will take the Munich field on a seven-game winning run, conceding one goal or fewer in all seven victories as they seek another resolute defensive performance against France.

Barring a 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Nations League final in October 2021, the Spaniards haven’t capitulated more than once in seven of their last encounters against Les Bleus.

On the downside, since leaving the French in their wake at Euro 2012, Spain have scored precisely once in all three competitive meetings between the sides.

History beckons for Deschamps

As aforementioned, Portugal denied France boss Deschamps a taste of continental glory eight years ago.

However, after exacting revenge on the Selecao, the 55-year-old is potentially two wins away from equalling a prestigious milestone.

Deschamps is no stranger to winning Euros. He captained Les Bleus to the title in 2000 and could become the second person to do it as a player and a manager after Germany’s Berti Vogts.

If the end justifies the means, Deschamps’ tactics at these finals have been spot on. His team has been hard to break down despite their notorious struggles in the front third.

Leading the charge is Kylian Mbappe – the only France player to get on the scoresheet at this summer’s tournament, though he did it from the spot in a 1-1 draw against Poland in the group stage.

Given the number of attempts he has made, it’s mind-boggling that he has yet to score from open play.

Mbappe has fired the second-most 20 shots in the competition, and it’s unfathomable that a player of his calibre couldn’t convert any away from the spot.

France will hope their skipper can adjust his crosshairs on Tuesday.

Spain vs France potential line-ups

Spain (4-3-3): Unai Simon: Jesus Navas, Nacho Fernandez, Aymeric Laporte, Marc Cucurella; Dani Olmo, Rodri, Fabian Ruiz; Lamine Yamal, Alvaro Morata, Nico Williams.

France (4-3-1-2): Mike Maignan; Jules Kounde, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; N’Golo Kante, Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot; Antoine Griezmann; Randal Kolo Muani, Kylian Mbappe.


If there was a time for France to lace up their scoring boots, it’s now.

Deschamps’ defenders have exceeded expectations, yet it’s hard to imagine the Spaniards drawing a blank.

After taking a big scalp in the quarter-finals, Spain should claim another here.

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