DONETSK, Ukraine – Reigning world and European Spain are just two matches away from achieving the unmatched title hat-trick of winning three straight major tournaments.
The La Roja eased into the Euro 2012 semifinals by defeating France 2-0 in a one-sided quarterfinal with midfielder Xabi Alonso scoring both goals.
The Spanish will now meet Portugal in Wednesday's semifinal in Donetsk, while Germany take on the winner of Sunday's quarter-final between Italy and England in Kiev on Thursday in the other semifinal.
Going into Saturday's game at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Spain had never won a competitive match against France with one draw and five losses.
That curse is now over.
Against Les Bleus, Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque again started the match without a nominal centre-forward, playing Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas up front. It was the second time the Spanish boss employeed the same formation following Spain's 1-1
draw with Italy in their group C opener.
Del Bosque said he felt that playing Fabregas up front was the best thing for the game against the French.
“I don't think there is an absolute truth about the number nine (forward position). There is no debate needed, we are not 100 per cent in favour of this strategy or that strategy,” said del Bosque, who played in Spain's disappointing Euro 1980 campaign, when the side finished bottom of their group and crashed out.
“Playing with a true forward gives you more depth, but we wanted possession and for that I decided not to play with a true forward. I think it worked as we were in control most of the time.”
He said that the side in a way had three forwards in Andres Iniesta, Fabregas and David Silva.
“It is also not correct to speak of our defensive midfielders Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets doing only defensive work. They are not that defensive. They are exceptional players,” said the Spanish coach.
“Sometimes if we defend we get closer to the success, our defenders know how to play in this sense and it worked out.”
Spain have set up their base camp in Poland and returned there after the match, even though their next game is again in Donetsk.
“We will travel to Poland and then come back again. Should we go through to the final in Kiev, we will also do it that way,” said del Bosque.
He said that the Spanish players would now have to recover as fast as possible for their semi-final date with Portugal.
“Yes, we were tired and we will have to do our best to get as much rest as we can. Portugal have two days more rest and that is a small disadvantage for us,” said del Bosque.
“The game against Portugal will be very difficult. There are no easy or comfortable matches in this competition. Portugal are a very strong side.” – Sapa-dpa