Donetsk: Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said that performing as a team did the trick for them as they won 2-0 over France in the Euro 2012 quarter finals.
The reigning world and European champions set up a last-four meeting with Portugal after a brace of goals from Xabi Alonso gave them victory at the Donbass Arena.
France coach Laurent Blanc’s plan to align two right-backs on the right flank back-fired in the 14th minute when Jordi Alba got away from both Mathieu Debuchy and Anthony Reveillere before crossing for Alonso to put Spain ahead.
Spain weathered periods of France pressure in the second half before Alonso sealed the win from the penalty spot in injury time, and Spanish coach Del Bosque said his team were deserved victors.
“I don’t want to talk about the opposition coach,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“We were strong on the left through Jordi and (Andreas) Iniesta, and that’s where the goal came from. I don’t think they were short in attack. They had (Franck) Ribery and (Karim) Benzema. They went forward and made chances, and then (Olivier) Giroud and (Samir) Nasri came on.
“I don’t think they just decided to defend. We played well as a team and that’s more important than the problems France had.”
Spain have now extended their run of unbeaten competitive matches to 18, but they will have two days less to prepare for their semi-final than Portugal, who overcame the Czech Republic 1-0 on Thursday.
With Cristiano Ronaldo in match-winning form for the Portuguese, Del Bosque knows his side will have to recover as quickly as possible. “Of course, it’s a little disadvantage for us. We were tired at the end but that’s normal and we’ll have to try to get as much rest as we can,” he said.
Talking about the tactics in the match, Del Bosque tweaked his team by deploying Cesc Fabregas as a ‘false nine’, and Blanc conceded his defenders might have found life easier against a conventional striker like Fernando Torres.
“We’d planned for two options, so it wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “It’s true we were expecting Torres, but we had Fabregas, who is a very different player. Would it have been better with Torres? I don’t know.
“It might have allowed our centre-backs to focus on one player, instead of having to worry about the four men in midfield.” He also pointed out that Xabi’s early goal as the key moment in his side’s loss and stood by his tactical choices.
Blanc unexpectedly introduced a fresh tactical formula in a bid with a five-man midfield deployed in a bid to stifle the reigning world and European champions.