French look to make Spain feel blue
Florent Malouda, France
Coming into the quarter-final clash La Roja have had two tough challenges on either side of their 4-0 demolition of the Republic of Ireland, but continued to look as impressive as ever.
As expected by the majority of the Euro followers the Spaniards topped their group above second placed Italy, with Croatia and the Irish falling behind.
With their form on the increase Spain are chasing an unprecedented three consecutive trophies and were undoubtedly the pre-tournament favourites for success once more. One player who isn’t taking the threat of the French lightly is Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas who is hoping his domestic team-mate Karim Benzema has a ‘bad game’.
"I'm really lucky to play on the same team as him, and now destiny has pitted us against each other," the goalkeeper mused during a press conference.
"He's a fantastic player, but I hope he has a bad game on Saturday!"
Consequently many are under the impression that the game will be a walk over for the 2008 champions, but with the French only having seen their 23-match undefeated streak come to an end in their final Group D game, they are a force that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Les Bleus finished as runners-up in their group, after they were shocked by a 2-0 defeat to Sweden to see England top them. While the play may not have gelled for Laurent Blanc’s men on that night, the side are classes above the 2006 World Cup finalist squad which was full of egos.
Blanc has managed to find a working ethic amongst his men with the fluidity of their play easy on the eye. However, it will be a tough challenge coming up against the Spanish and Florent Malouda has highlighted Fernando Torres as the man to watch out for, after seeing him already find the back of the net twice.
"Fernando finished the season very strongly and showed great determination," Malouda told reporters. "He has a great desire to show that he is still one of the world's great strikers. The Euros are a perfect showcase for him to show his qualities and he can demonstrate this and return to the club stronger.
"It will be difficult for us because we will meet again the player who won the previous European Championships and World Cup. It will be very dangerous for us to face Fernando, just like it was for us up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"Fernando can easily score two or three goals and he is the player who makes great runs for his team-mates. He will be a true menace for us and we must do everything to make sure he will not shine."