Spain v France preview

Preview for Saturday evening's Euro 2012 quarter-final clash between Spain and France in Donetsk (kick-off 7.45pm BST).

Last Updated: 22/06/12 at 21:28

Nasri (r): Should be fit

Nasri (r): Should be fit

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Spain, who lost Carles Puyol and David Villa before Euro 2012 to injury, have no major new fitness concerns.

Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso - who will win his 100th cap if he plays - and Javi Martinez are all a booking away from a suspension.

France pair Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery have recently sat out training due to "minor problems" but they should be fit.

It remains to be seen whether Yohan Cabaye will return after the Newcastle star missed the Sweden defeat with a thigh problem.

Head coach Laurent Blanc insists there is "no conflict" in the France squad ahead of Saturday night's clash.

Blanc did admit, though, that the dressing-room row among players which followed Tuesday's defeat by Sweden had delayed preparations for the meeting with the world and European champions.

The former Manchester United defender accepted that calm had to be restored within the group after the initial angry reaction to the setback which cost Les Bleus top spot behind England in Group D.

Blanc said: "There is no conflict. There were words exchanged after the game. There was a reaction. Some players were very angry. That is true.

"Certain things were said. We acted on those. People are worked up and angry after a defeat and there were raised voices.

"We took a bit of time to calm everyone down and coming back to Donetsk from Kiev to our base camp allowed us to do that and be a bit more at peace.

"It did delay us in terms of when we could start preparing for the game with Spain but you have priorities that have to be dealt with.

"But since Wednesday everything has been about working towards the game with Spain.

"Even though we were disappointed on Tuesday, the fact is we have still qualified for the semi-finals. We haven't had to pack our bags and go home."

Blanc is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing his side if they are to cause an upset against Spain.

He said: "Normally we try to adapt as little as possible to our opponents and play to our own strengths, but we are going to be coming up against a very good side.

"Spain are a little bit further on than us and will have 65 to 70% of the possession in a game. That is a problem for any side to deal with.

"They have great players who play for great clubs in Barcelona and Real Madrid. From a fan's perspective, it is a delight to watch them play.

"But Croatia and Italy showed a lot of solidarity, commitment and willingness against them and they are the qualities we will need to show if we are to have a chance of winning the game."

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, meanwhile, maintains it would be "bad" if he did not have any doubts over just what side to pick for the game.

Del Bosque accepts the strength of his squad will mean there is always debate over who should start.

The world champions were hardly convincing as they eked out a 1-0 victory over Croatia to win Group C with seven points from their three games, having opened with a draw against Italy.

The former Real Madrid boss - who again played without a natural striker once Fernando Torres had been withdrawn with half an hour remaining - indicated no firm decision had been made on how to line up against Les Bleus.

"We are modest, but still optimistic," he told a press conference.

"France are difficult opponents and also we have some doubts about the starting line-up, but that is a healthy thing.

"We are not absolutely right, and we will just try our best."

Del Bosque continued: "I haven't decided on my team yet. We have great players who can play up front.

"I have always had 23 great players who are important for their clubs, and I can't use all of them.

"It would be bad not to have any selection doubts. We have stable form and a stable team, and alternatives for every position."

Spain have never beaten France in a competitive fixture, and Del Bosque is not taking anything for granted.

"France have players who can take the initiative and I do not see them really defending all the time and waiting for us to do something," he said.

"The French coach is a good coach with good players at his disposal, so the match they lost with Sweden does not really tell us much.

"If we have a good moment tomorrow, we can beat them."

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Fixtures

There are no fixtures at present.

European Championships

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Czech Rep 3 -1 6
2 Greece 3 0 4
3 Russia 3 2 4
4 Poland 3 -1 2

Updated Wed, 20 Jun 2012

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