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European Championships

Donbass Arena (ATT 46,145) 23rd June 2012 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: N Rizzoli

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X Alonso (19, pen 90+1)

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Spain v France preview

Torres and Alonso on suspension tightrope; Les Bleus wait on Cabaye

Last Updated: 23/06/12 7:52pm

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Spain continue the defence of their Euro 2012 crown on Saturday when they take on France in a mouth-watering quarter-final.

Vicente del Bosque's La Roja have not been defeated in a competitive match since being shocked by Switzerland in the group stages on their way to winning the 2010 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Laurent Blanc's Les Bleus have lost just once, against Sweden in their last match of Euro 2012's group stages, in 24 games.

It therefore promises to be a closely-fought encounter in Donetsk and the winner will go through to face Portugal in the semi-finals.

Both France, 1998 world champions and 2000 kings of Europe, and Spain are two of the highest praised nations over the past 14 years of international football.

Strength in depth

But there is also an old score to settle, with Spain still stinging from being mugged by a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup.

Spain manager Del Bosque maintains it would be 'bad' if he did not have any doubts over just what side to pick for this summer's meeting with France.

Del Bosque accepts the strength of his squad will mean there is always debate over who should start.

The world champions were hardly convincing as they eked out a 1-0 victory over Croatia to win Group C with seven points from their three games, having opened with a draw against Italy.

And Del Bosque, who again played without a natural striker once Fernando Torres had been withdrawn with half-an-hour remaining against Croatia, has indicated no firm decision has been made on how to line up against France.

'No conflict'

Blanc, in contrast, has had to spend the build-up to the match dismissing speculation about a bust-up in the France camp.

The manager has admitted strong words were exchanged between members of the squad in the wake of the defeat by Sweden, which cost them top spot in Group D behind England.

But Blanc is adamant there is 'no conflict' within his squad amid rumours of similarities to the mass row which led to predecessor Raymond Domenech and France returning from the 2010 World Cup in humiliation.

Spain, who lost Carles Puyol and David Villa before Euro 2012 to injury, have no major new fitness concerns.

Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Torres, Xabi Alonso - who will win his 100th cap if he plays - and Javi Martinez are all a booking away from a suspension.

France pair Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery sat out Wednesday's training session due to "minor problems".

It remains to be seen whether Yohan Cabaye will return after the Newcastle star missed the Sweden defeat with a thigh problem.

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Tables

European Championships Group A

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 Czech Republic 3 6
2 Greece 3 4
3 Russia 3 4
4 Poland 3 2

European Championships Group B

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 3 9
2 Portugal 3 6
3 Denmark 3 3
4 Netherlands 3 0

European Championships Group C

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 3 7
2 Italy 3 5
3 Croatia 3 4
4 Republic of Ireland 3 0

European Championships Group D

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 3 7
2 France 3 4
3 Ukraine 3 3
4 Sweden 3 3

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