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Spain vs France pre-match: Key semi-final tactical battles

EURO2024.com looks ahead to what could decide the first semi-final between Spain and France.

The first UEFA EURO 2024 semi-final takes place on Tuesday in Munich as Spain face France in what looks set to be a fascinating encounter.

Here, EURO2024.com's Spain reporter Graham Hunter and France reporter Alex Clementson look at the key tactical battles that could decide the outcome.

Spain vs France build-up

Youth vs experience

At the moment we're guessing that, given Spain are missing Dani Carvajal and Robin Le Normand through suspension, coach Luis de la Fuente will select Jesús Navas at right-back. But which France player will be his direct rival? Kylian Mbappé? Ousmane Dembélé? Bradley Barcola? All are significantly younger than Navas and thrillingly quick. Can experience and nous cope with them? It's stuff like this which intrigues us and makes us love football, right?

Whoever he ends up against, Mbappé will be a huge figure. When fit and firing, the France forward is arguably the most dangerous and clinical figure in world football. He's yet to fully stamp his authority on this tournament, but when you possess bags of talent like he does, he only needs a minute. Could that moment come on Tuesday?

Spain vs France previous EURO meetings

How to deal with Spain's wingmen

When football produces daring, exciting players, the eternal question is: how quickly can rivals 'work them out' and thus diminish their impact? I'd imagine that Didier Deschamps' analysts have spent a good amount of time figuring out how they can – or whether they can – produce positional, marking and philosophical solutions to cope with Spain's dynamic duo of Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams.

Jules Koundé will be well versed in the panic and consternation Williams can cause in defenders, but the Frenchman is as dependable as they come on the right flank. He was unsettled by Portugal forward Rafael Leão on Friday, but ultimately emerged unscathed. He'll be buoyed by that, along with his Player of the Match contribution against Belgium, stifling another wily operator in Jérémy Doku with consummate ease.

Rodri metronomy vs Kanté chaos theory

Meanwhile, as a metronomic presence at the base of the Spanish midfield, Rodri will be expected to exert his typical influence on proceedings. Spain's No16 is blessed with unparalleled intelligence and positional dexterity, so Deschamps may have to mitigate, rather than eliminate entirely, this influence.

How key could N'Golo Kanté be in that exercise? The latter has been back to his bustling best at EURO 2024, and nobody can disrupt the rhythm of an opponent like Kanté.