Keep ball, stop Ribery - Spain's French recipe
Spain have a deceptively simple recipe to knock France out of Saturday's Euro 2012 quarter-final in Donetsk -- keep possession and smother dangerman Franck Ribery, Javi Martinez and Juanfran explained Thursday.
Athletic Bilbao star Martinez insisted the key is "to get the ball off them."
He explained: "Since Laurent Blanc arrived they have greater touch yet also more aggressivity.
"We shall have to impose our style and play our possession game. Both sides will be trying to get the ball and the key will be to get it off them," said the 23-year-old.
"France are a side who look to get the ball from the outset. From midfield onwards into attack they don't hang around but try quickfire passing and shooting. They are one of the toughest challenges we could have had. But we'll be looking to get the ball off them," said Martinez, a substitute in the 4-0 win over Ireland.
He added that the group were in confident mood despite some criticism in the media for not entirely convincing either in the opening draw against Italy or the nervy 1-0 win over Croatia.
"The atmosphere in the group is great, and our confidence is high. We have had some difficult moments but we knew it would be difficult - it is the Euros after all.
"Just because we won in 2008 and the 2010 World Cup wasn't going to make things smooth for us here - we knew all our opponents would try to get one over us but the team has come out of the opening phase stronger," he insisted.
Juanfran, back up for fullback Alvaro Arbeloa, insisted the Spanish would concentrate on making life hard for Bayern Munich star Ribery.
"We will have to be at him all the time. He has so much quality that he could score a goal at any moment or find a colleague with a threaded pass. We will have to get on top of him as he is one of their top players.
"We have to ensure he doesn't have a good day. We must mark him closely and make sure he doesn't do us any damage," the Atletico Madrid defender said.
Juanfran has yet to get his chance at the tournament but hopes an opportunity will eventually arise for him.
"I would like to participate more, get out there and contribute. But the coach has every confidence in Arbeloa. I have a lot of respect for Alvaro and for Vicente del Bosque. I will wait my chance but I am very positive as I think we have three games left - I think we'll get to the final."
To date Juanfran, 27 has just one international start to date - a May 26 friendly win over Serbia.