Avoiding defeat paramount in France vs Spain Group I face-off
The last two dominant dynasties of International football clash tonight in the Parisian suburb of Saint Denis, but while Spain have overtaken the great World Cup and European Championship winning France side as paragons of the closest thing to footballing perfection, they currently sit two points behind their hosts in World Cup 2014 Qualifying Group I. Coral currently have France at 5/4 to top the group with Spain the 4/7 favourites.
Spain coach Vincente Del Bosque’s reigning World and European Champions were held to a shock 1-1 draw by a spirited Finland side in Madrid on Friday night and even came close to shipping a second goal as both sides fought for the winner late on. Anything less than a win at Stade de France tonight would leave the French in pole position to top the group.
The French will be equally mindful of not allowing Spain to regain group leadership and will look to soak up their trademark possession-based pressure and hit them on the counter attack.
With that in mind Del Bosque will be doubly pleased to welcome back two of the cornerstones of his side in Xavi and Xabi Alonso, both of whom missed the Finland clash and the experience of a pair with 225 caps between them will be vastly beneficial in a match of this magnitude.
La Furia Roja haven’t lost to Les Bleus in four meetings since a Zinedine Zidane inspired team came from behind to beat them 3-1 on the way to the 2006 World Cup final, beating France to-nil three times – that they do so again is 27/10.
However the scandal-pockmarked reigns of Raymond Domenech and Laurent Blanc have now given way to a new start under Didier Deschamps, who was in the hot seat for a 1-1 draw in Madrid last year. It’s 4/7 with Coral that their fifth successive meeting shimmies south of the 2.5 total match goals mark.
Les Bleus’ home form this season has veered dramatically been friendly match frustration and qualifying cake walks, but the concession of goals has been more or less constant with the home resistance breached at least by their last four visitors.
Despite allowing Costa Rica and Panama onto the score sheet in friendlies this term, the visitors have gone five competitive matches outside Spain without conceding a goal.