by Darren Walsh
Shots of the players walking to the changing rooms; Cesc Fabregas is wearing headphones that take up almost all of the sides of his head.
Nasri doesn’t look best pleased during the anthems to be standing beside the bench. Everyone else was standing shoulder to shoulder, with their arms around each other, while he stood sullenly.
Maybe he has a point, looking at the French team. Blanc has picked two right backs, a tactic that won’t do if he takes over at Spurs.
Only one striker in total on the field here, and even he (Benzema) likes to drop into midfield. Well this is going to be a classic.
Penalty shout for Spain and Fabregas; Andy Townsend seems to think there wasn’t any intent by Clichy to clip him, but I didn’t think there needed to be intent in a foul. It looked more like Fabregas clipped his own heels together anyway.
Talking of the ex-Arsenal man, it’s terrible what has happened to him since he left London. The man is a classic midfielder, and he’s being crowbarred into this team as well as Barcelona’s at every other position. It’s a total waste of what he’s good at.
In this Spanish team, by dint of his time in the more physical English Premier League, Xabi Alonso qualifies as the enforcer in midfield. With the lack of a targetman up front, he’s taken on that mantle too, with a great header to open the scoring.
The lack of work rate by the French is exemplified by Malouda, who watched Alonso run right past him and have all the time he wanted to head in.
I think it’s safe to say that Benzema hasn’t learned much from Ronaldo about how to take free kicks at Madrid; he has a chance here and it floats away from goal.
Mexican Wave in the crowd, a bit early for it really, though it’s not like the game is that engrossing. The stadium isn’t even full enough for the full effect to take place.
45 minutes is up, feels like we’ve sat through double that. France have looked resigned to losing since the first whistle.
I like how the official points to a spot where Jordi Alba has been fouled after the referee already blows the whistle, as if he’s an important part of the decision making process.
When France get the chance to attack, which isn’t very often, they are making a mess of it. Ben Arfa and Nasri have to get onto the pitch at some point.
Finally, a chance for France; Debuchy with a header just over.
I’m liking how every time that Clive Tyldesley mentions how Spain are so good in possession and it will be so long until France get it back, Spain have given it away. It’s happened about four times now.
Torres and Pedro on for Spain, Nasri and Menez on for France. Clive is now trying to drum up some interest for the last quarter of the game, saying that it should pick up with more attacking players on the field. Sorry matey, but the game is a stinker and you know it.
Casillas with a good save from Ribery; the chance would never have occurred if Busquets hadn’t made the most unnecessary back heel in football history.
Yann M’Villa is really bad in possession; he turns into trouble as well as trying to make way too many ambitious passes. With a bit of luck that move to Arsenal comes off.
A player who is almost definitely going to Arsenal, Olivier Giroud, is on. He goes for a header and is slightly touched, but looks for a foul. If he thinks that’s bad wait until he encounters Robert Huth.
The ref has been giving everything Spain’s way, but the penalty award is justified and Xabi Alonso puts the game away, though with the way that Spain have played the second half, I’m surprised that he didn’t pass it sideways.
Oh thank God it’s over. France had one shot on target all game, and I imagine that not many will mourn their loss. In fact, I doubt that many will remember how they did when we look back at the tournament in years to come. They played as if they thought that there was a second leg to come.
Adrian Chiles asks Roy Keane if we will see England in the semis. “No” is the reply. That was as economical as the winning team were tonight, and a nice way to end a match that only the Spanish will have enjoyed.