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After overthrowing Belgium (2-3), France has another strong opponent on its way: Luis Enrique’s Spain who ended a series of 37 games without defeat for Italy in the semi-final (1-2). The winner of the duel will win the League of Nations.

Who will succeed Portugal on the list of the very young League of Nations? Its Iberian neighbor, Spain, and France meet in the evening of Sunday, October 10 in the final at the San Siro stadium in Milan to compete for the trophy. Opposition of style in perspective between a world champion France who wants to reassure himself on his qualities and a Spain ready to all daring thanks to its young players.

“The France team is still there. We are still one of the best nations, ”recalled French coach Didier Deschamps after a crazy match against Belgium.

Three months after their elimination in the round of 16 of Euro-2021 against the modest Switzerland, his men were again afraid. Exceeded in the last quarter of an hour of the first half, France took to the water against the battering of Carrasco, De Bruyne and Lukaku. Result: a return to the locker room head down.

Fifteen minutes later, the Blues return to the field transformed: the pressing is aggressive, Griezmann and Mbappé will harass the defenders until the last ten meters. Belgium retreated and finally cracked: Benzema sounded the revolt before offering a penalty to Mbappé for his fiftieth selection. Théo Hernandez, of which it was only the second cap for the Tricolores, completes the fantastic comeback.

What happened in the privacy of the locker room? “We said things to each other and we came back with real intentions,” said Kylian Mbappé at the microphone of the FFF. “We’ll have to wait to see that. I hope we win on Sunday and you will see how we felt. It is an energy that I cannot explain. I think if there is a video you will understand, ”said enigmatic Paul Pogba.

While waiting for the final, Didier Deschamps tempers the enthusiasm of his midfielder: “There is a match with another truth in three days, with another team, another scenario. ”

An explosive Spain

Faced with this France team capable of the worst as well as the best, Spain will be in full confidence. She has just taken her revenge on Italy after the cruel elimination on penalties at Wembley in the semi-finals of the Euro. La Roja ended a 37-game unbeaten streak for the European champions, the record for a national team.

All with the means at hand. Deprived of many holders of the Euro, the Spanish coach Luis Enrique went for the final with a good dose of daring: he dared to launch the FC Barcelona midfielder Gavi, who became the youngest player to wear the jersey. from Spain at 17. Villarreal winger Yéremi Pino, 18, was also entitled to his first selection in the second half.

Quickly, the doubts were dispelled and Gavi, supervised by experienced Sergio Busquets and Koke, responded with a precise game, without taking any risks. He even dared to rub shoulders with the rough Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, 37, who had celebrated his first selection in November 2004… Barely three months after the birth of Gavi!

“Gavi is not only the future of the selection, we can see that it is already the present”, rejoices Luis Enrique.

Collective prowled against unusual individuals

Since taking over the Spanish team in 2018, Luis Enrique has shaped a real collective, which depends little on the players on the pitch.

“In the same way that we do not defend with four, we do not arrive in front of goal with one player. We act collectively. Everyone must try to bring danger. Regardless of the players we have, we always try to do the same thing: to have more the ball than the opponent, to recover it very quickly when we lose it, to defend as far as possible from our goal “, explains the Spanish coach, who estimates that “between 40 and 50 players” could evolve in his team.

In short, in Spain, not an individuality exceeds despite the obvious talents of some and everyone is put at the service of the collective machine exercising a game of possession exhausting the opponent by depriving him of balls.

France is far from being able to say the same, she who has too often relied on the flashes of her talents that they are called Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema or even Kylian Mbappé. A formula that has shown its flaws at the Euro and during the first half against Belgium.

“After a good start to the match, we started to go back too far, they were able to create spaces and put us in difficulty. These two goals [belges] come a little against the course of the game, but they created the opportunities. We had to react as a team. The key is that mentally we were able to stay in the game and raise our level as a team, ”notes captain Hugo Lloris.

The France team knows the key, do not lose sight of it on Sunday.

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