Spain vs France: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a positive impact when Spain and France clash in the UEFA Euro 2024 semi-final.

Only three more matches remain before we have a new champions of the UEFA European Championships. The first semi-final comes from the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night, with Spain and France locking horns in a blockbuster clash.

Spain reached the UEFA Euro 2024 semi-finals by beating Germany with a late extra-time strike by Mikel Merino. Luis de la Fuente’s men were unstoppable in the group stage, winning all three games to cruise to the knockout phase. And La Roja will be the favourite to return to the final of the Euros for the first time since 2012.

As for France, they stuttered their way to the round of 16 after winning only one game in the group stage. Les Bleus’ struggles in the final third have continued, and they are yet to find the back of the net from open play thus far in UEFA Euro 2024. However, Didier Deschamps’s men have not conceded from open play either and will fancy their defensive prospects against Spain.

Tuesday’s clash will be a battle of different styles, and an intriguing match-up beckons between Spain and France. With a spot in the UEFA Euro 2024 final on the line, neither side can afford to slip up, and the margin of error will be slim. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three “key players” for the upcoming Euro 2024 semi-final at the Allianz Arena.

Kylian Mbappe

The first player on our list is the obvious pick in a game featuring France. We are talking about Kylian Mbappe, who has not been at his best thus far at UEFA Euro 2024 but has a broken nose to blame for that.

UEFA Euro 2024 is Mbappe’s first tournament as France’s captain, with the new Real Madrid star taking over the captain’s armband after the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He would have hoped for a better outing thus far but will be delighted to see his team in the semi-finals.

While Mbappe has been far from his best, he is the only French player to find the back of the net thus far in the competition. In addition, he will be raring to go after finishing a rare game without going the distance, with Didier Deschamps not keeping him on the pitch until the penalty shootout against Portugal.

The European Championships have not been a happy hunting ground for Mbappe, who has been exceptional in his two World Cups thus far but has not set the stage alight on the continental stage. There is no better time than the semi-finals for the 25-year-old to get back to his best and inspire France to beat Spain this midweek.

Nico Williams

Spain’s attack also has prodigious talent. However, unlike Kylian Mbappe, Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams have been top-class thus far at UEFA Euro 2024. And both youngsters will be the best prospects for Spain to topple France in the first semi-final.

We have picked Nico Williams as he is more well-rounded and can trouble the French defence with his directness and vision. It is no wonder that high-profile clubs like Arsenal, Barcelona, and Chelsea are vying for his signature in the summer transfer window.

However, Williams, who has a preference for his next destination, remains committed to his national side as he looks to take Spain back to the summit of European football. The 21-year-old has one goal and one assist thus far at UEFA Euro 2024, and his output will go a long way in determining the game’s outcome. Expect him to rise to the occasion and inspire Spain to a win over France on Tuesday.

N’Golo Kante

The midfield battle will tip the scales at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday, with Spain and France banking on three midfielders each to keep things tight and initiate swift transitions. While Fabian Ruiz has been arguably the best player at UEFA Euro 2024, we have zeroed in on the resurgent N’Golo Kante as our final pick.

Many raised their eyebrows when Didier Deschamps picked Kante in his squad for the Euros. However, the veteran midfielder has proven his naysayers wrong thus far in the tournament, proving he has still got it.

In addition, the 33-year-old has stretched his tremendous unbeaten record with France at major tournaments to 21 games, with no other player ever enjoying a longer run. How he fares in the middle of the park will determine whether Spain will run France ragged or struggle to get past the backline. Expect vintage Kante to be on full display in the midfield battle.

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