With a 4-6-0 or a 4-5-1, Spain are simply very close to impossible to beat. France barely got any opportunities to threaten Casillas’ goal or even get a long stretch of possession. Spain didn’t play no fantasy soccer, but when you midfield unit is built upon the best in the world, there’s hardly a chance of beating them unless you play a perfect game.
Spain haven’t been very impressive in Euro 2012, and when you look back at the World Cup, they didn’t impress back then. They don’t go all out attack, but they hardly lose the ball and make the most of the few opportunities they create. France had a few chances through counter attacking and one wonderful long shot from Cabaye, but in general, they simply couldn’t make anything happen.
Andres Iniesta wasn’t perfect, but he had another sublime performance, while Xabi Alonso scored a rare double with an even rarer headed goal from him very early on and in the 90th minute with a penalty kick, something that hasn’t happened too much in this tournament.
France were used to be the possession heavy side in all three matches during the group stage, but Blanc was afraid to play with too many attacking midfielders, hoping that with Debuchy in a more forward position and the combo of M’Vila and Cabaye they’d have enough success in stopping and disrupting the Spanish passing game.
But there’s so much patience in the Spanish game that any good team with attacking aspiration eventually bites on the decoy. Cesc Fabregas had one amazing miss after a beautifully threaded ball by Iniesta. Fernando Torres and Pedro came in later to increase the pressure on the French defense, with Pedro playing very effective 25 minutes, getting a penalty kick which wasn’t there. Torres had one of his more disappointing performances, but strikers need their time. Fabregas didn’t add too much to the match, but you can’t argue against results.
Now it’s Portugal. That was one of the more highly anticipated matches in the second round of the 2010 World Cup, ending in a long and boring outing with Spain coming through with a David Villa goal. Portugal, despite their confidence and attacking success in recent matches, will probably play more to disrupt and rely on counter attacking, in what is almost like a Barcelona vs Real Madrid match in some way.