Spain Soars as France Flounders

by Ben Ayuko

{image Getty images}

Spain and France met in the 1st semi-final of the 2024 European championships and gave us a thrilling and very entertaining feast for our eyes.

Spain immediately staked their claim on the proceedings as they took control of the football. They were passing it around with that oh so familiar Spanish Flair that reminded everybody of their dominance in the early 2010s. An early chance squandered by midfielder, Fabián Ruiz, suggested that their quality may be too much for France to handle. And then, in the 8th minute of the 1st half, France struck.

It was as though the world needed reminding as to who Spain’s opponents were. The back-to-back World Cup finalists were not about to be outdone in such a routine manner. After receiving the ball on wide on the left-hand side, Kylian Mbappe took a touch before lifting it into the penalty area right onto the forehead of an unmarked Kolo Muani, who nodded France ahead from point blank range. This would turn out to be France’s first goal scored in open play since the tournament began. And what a time they picked to do it.

1-0 to Le Bleu giving La Roja the mountain we all thought they would have to summit to get to the final.

France enjoyed a period of some dominance right after this and had they have got a 2nd; the game might have been done. Spain themselves looked almost like they had begun accepting their fate. They were devoid of any inspiration. They, therefore, needed something special to lift their spirits. Step up 16yr old wunderkind, Lamine Yamal.

It was in the 20th minute when he took the ball in his stride on the right wing and cut inside, past Adrien Rabiot, onto his favoured left foot and curled in a gem of a shot passed French keeper, Mike Maignan. The whole Stadium erupted. The whole footballing world took a bow. What a feat for someone so young, taking the woes of a nation onto his own shoulders and flipping it on its head.

That proved to be the jolt they needed as merely 5minutes later, Spanish midfielder, Dani Olmo expertly controlled a deflected cross from inside the box and sent it right across goal, leaving both Maignan without a hope of stopping it.

This proved to be the extent of the damage as, after the break, Spain opted to limit France’s opportunities and saw out the game professionally. 2-1 it ended and no doubt France was disappointed by the end result, but it would be difficult not to say the better team won. Through to the final they go, waiting to see who would dare be their opponent.


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