Spain vs. France head-to-heads
Before their meeting in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals in Donetsk on Saturday, Spain and France have played each other on 30 occasions. Most of the matches have been friendlies, with Spain winning 13 of them to France’s 11, with six draws. Of the six competitive games, France has won five and drawn one. Here is a look at some of the most memorable encounters:
At Paris. Michel Platini guided France to its first European Championship title with a 2-0 victory over unlikely finalist Spain. Platini was the leading member of France’s talented four-man midfield, known as ”Le Carre Magique”, along with Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez. The current UEFA president scored a record nine goals in the tournament. Perhaps his most memorable one was a curling free kick in the 57th minute that somehow squeezed under goalkeeper Luis Arconada, who had been the standout player as Spain reached its first final since winning in Madrid 20 years earlier. Despite having defender Yvon Le Roux sent off in the 85th minute, there was still time for Bruno Bellone to score a second as Les Bleus won their first major title.
France beat Spain home and away to finish top of its group ahead of the Czech Republic, while the Spanish missed out on a major championship for the first time in 18 years. Les Bleus came from behind to win the first meeting 3-1 in February, 1991 at Parc des Princes, replying to Jose Mari Bakero’s 10th-minute opener with goals from Franck Sauzee, Jean-Pierre Papin and current France coach Laurent Blanc. Eight months later in Seville, Fernandez and Papin put France ahead 2-0 after 15 minutes and held on for a 2-1 victory despite Abelardo’s 33rd-minute strike.
At Bruges, Belgium. France’s march toward its second European Championship included a nail-biting victory over Spain. Zinedine Zidane’s tremendous free-kick on the half hour mark put Les Bleus ahead before Gaizka Mendieta equalized from the penalty spot soon after. Patrick Vieira set up Youri Djorkaeff at the end of the first half for what proved to be the winner, after Spain missed a last-minute penalty. Raul Gonzalez stepped up to take the spot kick with Mendieta already taken off and the Real Madrid striker sent his shot sailing over the bar to put France on course to follow up its 1998 World Cup win with a second European title.
At Hanover, Germany. Spain went into this second round match as winners of Group H, while France squeezed through behind Group G winner Switzerland. David Villa scored a penalty to put Spain ahead before Franck Ribery equalized just before the break. Thierry Henry embellished a tangle with Carles Puyol to win a free kick that Vieira headed home in the 82nd minute, before Zidane scored in injury time. After this defeat, Spain perfected its quick-touch passing and possession game that has carried it to the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup titles.