Del Bosque issues Spain challenge

Vicente del Bosque has challenged Spain to "change history" when they face France for a place in the European Championship semi-finals tonight.

France have never lost to Spain in a competitive fixture and were the last team to eliminate them from a major tournament at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Del Bosque, though, intends to set the record straight at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.

"Everyone thinks we are favourites because we won the Euros four years ago and the World Cup two years ago, but there is evidence that France are better in competitive matches," he said.

"But we have to think about the present and not the past.

"We all have to see tonight if we can change history."

Del Bosque added: "France have players who can take the initiative and I do not see them really defending all the time and waiting for us to do something.

"The French coach is a good coach with good players at his disposal, so the match they lost with Sweden does not really tell us much.

"If we have a good moment, we can beat them."

Del Bosque accepts the strength of his squad will mean there is always debate over who should start.

The world champions were hardly convincing as they eked out a 1-0 victory over Croatia to win Group C with seven points from their three games, having opened with a draw against Italy.

The former Real Madrid boss, who again played without a natural striker once Fernando Torres had been withdrawn with half an hour remaining, indicated no firm decision had been made on how to line up against Les Bleus.

"We are modest, but still optimistic," he told a press conference.

"France are difficult opponents and also we have some doubts about the starting line-up, but that is a healthy thing.

"We are not absolutely right, and we will just try our best."

Del Bosque continued: "I haven’t decided on my team yet. We have great players who can play up front.

"I have always had 23 great players who are important for their clubs, and I can’t use all of them.

"It would be bad not to have any selection doubts. We have stable form and a stable team, and alternatives for every position."

France head coach Laurent Blanc insists there is "no conflict" in his squad, despite a dressing-room row among players which followed Tuesday’s defeat by Sweden delaying preparations for the meeting with the world and European champions.

Del Bosque, though, is not reading too much into the saga, after the setback which cost Les Bleus top spot behind England in Group D.

"You have to work to have good relations within the team," said the Spain boss, who has stars from bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona in his squad.

"Of course some of the players are more difficult to cope with, but as long as they play well on the pitch, that is the most important thing.

"I don’t think it will influence our match in any way."