by Tom Allen
Portugal await the winners of Saturday's quarter-final between Spain and
France in the last four and it might take the defending champions a while to get
the job done when the pair meet in Donetsk.
I've been much more impressed with Spain than the majority of viewers during
Euro 2012, some questioning their tactics, but admittedly they have struggled to
overcome the only two quality opponents they have faced so far and France are
definitely in that category despite arriving on the back of a defeat.
The French were outplayed across the pitch in their Group D finale against
already-eliminated Sweden, going down 2-0, but perhaps that was the wake-up call
they needed and I've certainly not written them off just yet.
An opening draw with England and a 2-0 triumph over co-hosts Ukraine were
ultimately enough for Les Bleus to advance as runners-up with foru points,
behind the Three Lions, but they'll need to raise their game to trouble the
Spanish and I'm not sure their defence is good enough to cope with the movement
of the defending champions.
Spain have been pleasing on the eye once again but Vicente del Bosque's lack
of trust in any of his recognised forwards, despite Fernando Torres' double
against the Irish, could be their undoing.
There might be enough quality in behind for Spain to get away with it on
Saturday but likely semi-final opponents Portugal have a certain number seven
capable of firing them to glory and the pre-tournament favourites do lack a
direct goal threat.
In falling behind to Italy before rallying and scrapping past Croatia 1-0,
when a defeat would have eliminated del Bosque's men, there is enough evidence
to suggest Spain might be frustrated against the French and I see France manager
Laurent Blanc setting up to do just that.
Spain are still the most likely winners for me but while that is reflected in
the prices the 4/5 on them getting it done inside 90 minutes doesn't appeal.
It could be a long, low-scoring night and the main selection is in the
over/under 2.50 goals market where the 8/13 on the net bulging twice or less is
It's occurred just once in six combined matches for these two in Poland
Ukraine, Spain's 4-0 thrashing of hapless Ireland, and one could be enough to
decide it either way.
3pts Back Under 2.50 Goals (Spain vs. France) @ 8/13 (Betfred,
0.5pts Back Draw (Spain vs. France) @ 5/2 (Bet