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UEFA Nations League: Spain and France Battle to the Death


UEFA Nations League: Spain and France Battle to the Death

Spain vs France

After months of anticipation, the UEFA Nations League final is about to happen where we’ll feature two of Europe’s biggest heavyweights.

Spain and France are going to vie for glory in the second edition of this competition as both came out on top after some exciting semi-finals clashes.

La Roja ended the Azzurri’s long unbeaten streak in international competition to earn their finals berth, while Les Bleus staged a stirring comeback against the Red Devils to deny them another shot at a trophy once again.

Given their trophy-less runs in Euro 2020 few months ago, Spain and France are itching to claim more silverware as well as some bragging rights.

Luis Enrique and Didier Deschamps are two renowned managers who are already familiar with each other. And with both sides boasting a ton of quality from all positions at the pitch, we expect nothing less than a five-star match on Sunday.

Read on below as SBOTOP takes a look at this matchup through today’s game preview.

Talking Points

Spain are fueled by their young upstarts

Luis Enrique’s emphasis on youth has been paying off big time for La Roja, which may eventually result to trophies for the near future.

Over these past few months, Spain were able to mix their old reliables with some new shiny pieces and the future looks bright for them since they have a succession plan in place.

During Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics, Pedri took the reins as he served as their fulcrum in the midfield – which boosted his transfer value tremendously.

Many dubbed him as the successor for Andres Iniesta in Barcelona and Spain, although he’ll face stiff competition in that regard from one of his La Masia batchmates.

With Pedri rested this time around, it is Gavi who has been hogging the spotlight in the UEFA Nations League 2021 news due to his fine play for La Roja.

Gavi is a minor playing against grown men and he became the youngest man to don the Spain shirt since Angel Zubieta in 1936.

The Barcelona prodigy was called up by Luis Enrique recently and he held his nerve alongside veterans Sergio Busquets and Koke during their latest victory against a confident, veteran-laden squad in Italy.

Another hero for Spain here is Ferran Torres, who is clearly making a case why he should get more playing time for Manchester City.

The 21-year-old centre-forward notched two goals in the semis and he should be ready to go despite suffering a knock late in that game.

For this upcoming fixture, Luis Enrique is expected to field in the same group with Mikel Oyarzabal, Pau Torres, Unai Simon, and Mikel Merino also joining their youth revolution.

France have another shot at glory

France’s resiliency was in full display when they were pushed to the limit by Belgium.

The Red Devils took a two-goal lead with first half scores from Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku. However, Les Bleus dug deep to turn the tables against the top-ranked nation in the world.

Karim Benzema, who continues to carry his fine form for France since Euro 2020, scored at the 62nd minute. And then Kylian Mbappe found the equaliser seven minutes later via a spot-kick.

Romelu Lukaku almost won it for Belgium when he steered home a cross from Yannick Carrasco late, but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside.

Les Bleus then stole the game when Theo Hernandez scored with a low drive after a failed clearance by the Red Devils.

It’s games like these where we’re reminded why France are one of the favourites by the UEFA Nations League 2021 odds to lift the trophy anew.

History

Spain and France last met in an international friendly four years ago where La Roja defeated Les Bleus 2-0, thanks to goals from David Silva and Gerard Deulofeu.

The head-to-heads between Spain and France have been pretty close in recent years. In their last 35 games against each other, Spain have the slight edge with 16 wins while France have won 12 times along with seven draws.

As far as the competition itself is concerned, the UEFA Nations League is generally seen as a pocket tournament to replace international friendlies into more competitive fixtures.

Portugal won the inaugural championship back in 2019 when they beat Netherlands in the final while England and Switzerland settled for third and fourth respectively. None of those four countries made it to this year’s final four, though.

Spain’s last major international trophy dates back to Euro 2012 while France got theirs previously in the 2018 World Cup.

 


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