Euro 2024

Spain v France: De la Fuente's ambitious Spain to break French resistance

Talisman Rodri celebrates scoring for Spain
Rodri's outstanding club form has carried over for his country at EURO 2024

After eliminating tournament hosts Germany, Jamie Kemp is backing a fearless Spain side to finally make France's attacking struggles pay...

Netherlands v England Superboost

England are in the semi-final of Euro 2024, and Betfair are offering up another SuperBoost on Wednesday!

Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil Van Dijk can now be backed to commit 1 or more fouls vs England at 1/12.00 - up from 1/3!

Virgil Van Dijk has committed more fouls than any other player at Euro 2024 (12), at an average of 2.4 per 90.

Indeed, he has made a foul in each of the Netherlands' five games at the tournament so far, and committed 2 or more in four of those - 2 v Poland, 1 v France, 3 v Austria, 4 v Romania, 2 v Turkey.

England (73) are the most fouled team at Euro 2024, whilst both Harry Kane (10) and Jude Bellingham (11) sit in the top five most fouled players at the tournament.

Spain v France
Tuesday 9th July, 20:00
Live on BBC One

Stylish Spain meet immovable French force

We knew before the quarter-finals that Spain were a high class team, blessed with a fine mixture of experience and burgeoning talent. Ahead of the semi-final, we now know they've got the character and collective fortitude to go with it.

Spain fans must have been fearing the worst in the quarter-final when, with their starting front three all substituted, Germany equalised to take the game into extra time. And yet, in hostile territory with the momentum and atmosphere against them, the outer edges of La Roja's squad did more than just keep them alive. It was two substitutes - Dani Olmo and Mikel Merino - who would go on to combine for their 119th-minute winner in Stuttgart.

Luis de la Fuente's have ticked a lot of boxes at this tournament, and now comes the ultimate test.

In general terms, their semi-final clash with France pits the most dynamic attack against the meanest defence at EURO 2024. While Spain lead the way for xG (2.1) and shots (20) per game among teams to qualify from the group stage, France have only conceded one goal across 512 minutes of play in Germany - and that was from a penalty. In what was already a gifted pool of defenders from previous tournaments, the arrival of William Saliba, especially, has les Bleus looking stingier than ever.

Uefa European Championship Finals - Top 5 Shots

Team Played Shots On target Av/Game
Germany 5 95 19
Portugal 5 88 17.6
Spain 7 122 17.4
France 6 96 16
Czechia 3 44 14.7
Croatia 3 44 14.7
Türkiye 5 72 14.4
Netherlands 6 81 13.5
Belgium 4 53 13.3
Denmark 4 53 13.3
Ukraine 3 39 13
Austria 4 51 12.8
Slovakia 4 50 12.5
Poland 3 37 12.3
Switzerland 5 57 11.4
Italy 4 44 11
Albania 3 33 11
England 7 76 10.9
Hungary 3 31 10.3
Romania 4 37 9.3
Slovenia 4 36 9
Serbia 3 26 8.7
Georgia 4 30 7.5
Scotland 3 17 5.7
Full stats

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Didier Deschamps' side are clearly not at the EUROs to accumulate any style points, and with the masked man Kylian Mbappe clearly not in his peak condition, France have leaned heavily on their defence to guide them to this point. Though their 87 non-penalty shots without scoring a goal paints a picture of inefficiency, it also shows they've struggled to create a stream of quality chances. France's total of 12 'big chances' created - as defined by Opta - is only marginally better than the likes of Croatia (11) and Hungary (10), who went out in the group stage.

Quite frankly, it's hard to know whether Deschamps' France are vulnerable ahead of the semi-final, or better than ever in their mastery of fine margins and winning without stylistic acclaim. But with the stakes high here, I don't predict there'll be much diversion from how France's games have typically gone. They won't be all that interested in taking much initiative through possession, their defensive shape will be tight, and they will stay in the game as long as possible while they wait for Kylian Mbappe to change gears.

France haven't trailed at any point at EURO 2024, and Spain have only been behind for 21 minutes overall. Meanwhile, les Bleus have been level on the scoreboard for 82% of their total match time in this tournament - the highest percentage of any side to progress from the group stage. Add to that, their last four first halves of football haven't seen a single goal scored or conceded.

With the tension ramped up, I'll stick with this one to be a slow burner too. By the final whistle, however, I'll opt for Spain to find a way here. There's not a lot else we've needed to see to be convinced by La Roja so far, and even when bad news hits - a tournament-ending injury for Pedri - the stand-in Dani Olmo goes on to win man of the match in the quarter-final. I'm going with attack to win the day and see Spain to another European Championship showpiece.

The flanks will be a key battleground in Munich

Spain's right side and France's left should be a crucial part of this game. For Spain, the 38-year-old Jesus Navas is expected to come in at full back for the suspended Dani Carvajal, and that will surely mean Kylian Mbappe spending a lot of time on the wing with the remit of testing Navas' legs.

As for the other winger versus full back match-up on that flank, the spell-binding Lamine Yamal will be up against Theo Hernandez - a player who is generally more prominent attacking the opposition goal than defending his own. Indeed, it is on that side of the pitch where a very high stakes game of cat-and-mouse is bound to play out. Will France play it too safe in doubling up on the wings, or will a rare Navas outing send them on the hunt?

Mbappe has averaged 3.9 successful dribbles per 90 at EURO 2024, which is his highest mark at a major tournament since the 2018 World Cup. France are leaning on him majorly in attack, and keeping him a peripheral figure will of course be key to Spain's success. Though he's only been fouled six times in his four games in the tournament so far, I expect the combination of Navas' presence and the semi-final setting to spur plenty of events between the Frenchman and recovering Spanish defenders.

Along with the two foul recommendations, I'll also add in 1+ shot on target for Dani Olmo who has suddenly become a Golden Boot contender (see above Tweet).

The Leipzig man produced a big time performance in steering Spain past Germany (goal and an assist), and the injury to Pedri now means the no. 10 position is his for as long as his team last in this tournament. He may not have started the EUROs as a key player, but he could certainly well end it as one with what he's produced when called upon.

Football... Only Bettor Podcast - Semi-final tips - Listen here!

Now read the rest of our Euro 2024 content here!

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