By Alan Duffy
After showing signs against England that they could be real contenders for Euro 2012, France went out with an almighty whimper against Spain on Saturday night.
Laurent Blanc started with right-back Mathieu Debuchy on the right side of midfield (with Anthony Reveillere talking the gifted full-back’s place in defence), a tactical decision that told us all we needed to know about how Les Bleus would approach this fixture. However, it only took 19 minutes for Spain to breach the French defence, with Xabi Alonso heading home after both Debuchy and Reveillere failed to stop Jordi Alba getting in a decent cross (but where were Gael Clichy and Florent Malouda!!??).
Despite going a goal down, France struggled to get going in what was a rather disappointing game. Indeed, it took Blanc until the 79th minute to throw Olivier Giroud into the game, something he should have done much much earlier. But ultimately, it would be the Spanish who would score again, with Alonso netting his second of the game on 90 minutes, this time from the penalty spot.
Spain march on, but don’t look quite the unstoppable force of previous tournaments. As for France, professional gobshite Samir Nasri needs to be shown the door, Karim Benzema needs to be played in a more withdrawn role behind Giroud, and Gael Clichy needs to learn how to defend. Only then, in my hugely educated and knowledgeable opinion, will Les Bleus rise again.
Highlights to follow…