Today was the third quarter final of Euro 2012 and it was contested between Spain and France.
Champions Spain were favorites to retain their crown whilst France were an outside bet to win the tournament despite finishing second in their group. Without playing as well as usual, Spain topped their group by winning two and drawing one, whilst France lost their final game against Sweden to concede top spot to England.
France went for a defensive strategy, much like the Czechs and Greeks had done the two previous nights. Spain decided to start with Cesc Fabregas upfront instead of an out and out striker, these tactics were also used in their opening contest against Italy. France's ploy to keep the Spanish out seemed to be working in the first few minutes but all their work came undone thanks to Xabi Alonso's header, who was unmarked at the back post on nineteen minutes.
The French didn't appear to have an answer to the champion's possession and managed to keep the score down to one nil at the break. Their display in the second period was as unimaginative as the first, despite bringing on more attacking players such as Samir Nasri and Olivier Giroud, the French never really threatened Spain.
The Spanish were in cruise control for much of the game as they just held on to their lead by running down the clock, they were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute as Alonso celebrated his 100th appearance for the national team in style, by wrapping up a comfortable victory.
It's no real surprise Spain went through, France's performance was shockingly bad however and one deserving of their exit. The Portugal match will be much tougher for the Spanish however I expect to see them in the final against Germany, the French will be disappointed with the manner of their defeat and lessons will have to have been learnt.