Blanc's tactical changes hurt France against Spain


Frank Ribery battling for the ball with Spain's Xabi Alonso
Donetsk, Jun 24: France coach Laurent Blanc's tactical changes against the reigning champions hurt the Les Bleus after Xabi Alonso scored twice to send Spain through to the Euro 2012 semi-final in Donetsk.

Blanc opted for a double-switch at the right flank with Mathieu Debuchy starting ahead of right-back Anthony Reveillere. In an attempt to stop Spain's attacking threat, France were playing an orthodox 4-5-1 formation.

However, play-maker Samir Nasri had to sit-out on the bench with surprise inclusion Florent Malouda starting in an attacking role to support goal-shy Karim Benzema.

Despite their tactics with a double right-back, Spain's opener came through Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba on the left while Alvaro Arbeloa found himself in acres of space on the right side of the field with David Silva for support.

Spain's passing style, which was heavily criticised against Croatia, worked perfectly as they dominated the first half with a goal in hand. Vicente Del Bosque chose the same 'false nine' in an attempt to dominate possession which left the french chasing shadows in their own half.

The only threat for the Spanish back-line came with Frank Ribery's bursting forward-run on the left flank with a help of left-back Gael Clichy. The Bayern Munich winger forced his way past Arbeloa and Gerard Pique on many ocassions but his crosses only found defender Sergio Ramos.

The French had no answers to the simple yet clever passes made by the defending European champions. Alonso found enough space to deliver inch-perfect passes to the other end of the field and while pass maestro Xavi Hernendez was surrounded, his Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets found ample space to distribute the ball.

During the second period, the French, to some extent, were the better side in terms of possession and passing techniques. Spaniards were cramped inside their own half as Blanc introduced Nasri and striker Oliver Giroud. Del Bosque's men were forced to counter-attack which they managed to do with ease and hold the ball outside the French penalty box.

Del Bosque seemed in no mood to defend the lead as he substituted three attacking players with Fernando Torres, Pedro and Santi Cazorla. With a few minutes left, Pedro dashed ahead of Reveillere who brought him down in the penalty area resulting in a penalty.

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