Spain eyes first win against France at Euro 2012

Spain hopes to make history and mix it with a little revenge in

Saturday’s European Championship quarterfinal against France.

Spain has never beaten the French in six competitive fixtures,

with the most recent loss coming at the 2006 World Cup. Spain

hasn’t been eliminated from a major tournament since and defender

Sergio Ramos doesn’t want another French victory to end his team’s

bid to capture a third straight major title.

”Football offers up something nice, which is you always get a

chance at revenge and tomorrow night we get that chance,” said

Ramos, who played in that 3-1 second-round loss to Les Bleus in

Hannover, Germany. ”In 2006, we didn’t possess the maturity or the

experience that we have now. We were in the midst of being formed

into a team, with a lot of new players.”

Since that result, Spain has gone on to hone the quick-touch,

possession-based game that led the country to Euro 2008 and 2010

World Cup triumphs. Between those title wins, the French claimed a

fifth victory in those six official games.

”There are facts that can’t be denied, and we will strive to

change that,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said Friday from the

Donbass Arena. ”We’re favorites since we’re world and European

champions, but in the prior matchups France has been superior to

us. Let’s see if we are capable of changing that precedent by

extending the success we’ve achieved.”

Del Bosque said he had doubts over his lineup after the

unconvincing 1-0 victory over Croatia, which helped Spain finish

top of its group.

Spain’s attack has been led by striker Fernando Torres or

midfielder Cesc Fabregas, and there was no further clarity over

which way Del Bosque would lean in the team’s first match in

Ukraine. Striker Fernando Llorente, who impressed this season with

Athletic Bilbao, remains unused at Euro 2012.

”I have a doubt, but it’s better to have one,” the former Real

Madrid coach said. ”We have options and we’ll try to pick the team

that offer us the best chance. We’ve always had these doubts, it’s

not a question of it being the quarterfinals.”

Spain was not letting news of France’s heated dressing-room

bust-up following its loss to Sweden soften the team’s

approach.

”In every household of every family, there are arguments,”

Ramos said, ”and that doesn’t necessarily mean the unit is

affected.”

The Spanish are the masters of keeping possession but the French

themselves have players such as Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery and

Yohan Cabaye who are comfortable on the ball, making the match

potentially one for the purists.

”They like to hold possession, their midfield likes the ball,

Ribery wants it,” said midfielder Juan Mata, who is still looking

to make his first appearance at the tournament.

”If the game turns out to be like the ones against our past

opponents, then we’ve been working on variety of ways to break them

down.”