ALEX CROOK EURO 2024

AUTHOR: Lewis Williams

ALEX CROOK PREVIEW: Spain v France

Star Sports football ambassador Alex Crook looks ahead to the first semi-final of EURO 2024 as Spain battle France…


So it is 48 games down and three to go here in Germany as Sunday’s Euro 2024 final looms on the horizon, writes ALEX CROOK.

Twenty-four teams began the tournament a month ago all dreaming of being crowned champions in Berlin, but just four remain and that will become three after France meet Spain in the clash of two former winners in Munich’s magnificent Allianz Arena this evening.

Having come agonisingly close to lifting the World Cup in Qatar two years ago and blessed with a squad deep in talent, France were many people’s pre-tournament picks to go one better, but Didier Deschamps’s men have so far bored their way to the semis.

In fact Deschamps has arguably had more criticism back home than Gareth Southgate having seen his side score just three times – two of them own goals and the other a penalty.

Spain, looking to reach a fifth Euros final, in contrast have been the outstanding team of the tournament, thrilling us with some scintillating football and are bidding to become the first team in the history of the Euros to win six games in a row.

That record of five successive wins – including dumping out World Cup semi-finalists Croatia, defending European champions Italy and hosts Germany, also means the little-heralded Luis de la Fuente has now guided his side to 15 wins in 19 games since the start of the year – comfortably the best record of any European nation.

If there is any justice in the world it will be Spain, spearheaded by exciting wingers Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams, stepping out at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night, but France’s stubborn defence means this will be their toughest test of the tournament.

They are also without a trio of key players with Champions League winning full-back Dani Carvajal and key centre-back Robin Le Norman suspended and Pedri injured.

Pedri being kicked off the park by Germany worked to Spain’s advantage as substitute Dani Olmo scored one goal and made the dramatic extra-time winner for Mikel Merino. Olmo has the best ratio of goals and assists of any player in the tournament and this could be his moment to shine. Olmo is a generous ? with starsports.bet to score the first goal.

It could be a more testing evening for Carvajal’s likely replacement, the veteran and sole survivor from Spain’s 2012 winning team Jesus Navas.

Navas will be up against a Kylian Mbappe who has failed to fire so far, registering just one penalty goal from 20 shots on target, but his bursts of pace are likely to be a problem for the 35-year-old Navas, who is ? with starsports.bet to be shown a card.

There have only been four goals in France’s five matches so far so it is easy to see why Deschamps is coming under fire, but he is too long in the tooth to change his pragmatic approach now.

With that in mind under 2.5 goals looks a solid proposition and if you lump that in with Navas and Adrien Rabiot, fresh back from suspension, to be shown a card the build-a-bet returns 15/1 with starsports.bet.

Three of the four quarter finals went all the way to extra time and it is not hard to see this one going this distance. France may well grind their way through again but Spain are ? with starsports.bet to win in extra-time and I’m hoping their journey does not end here.


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Build-a-bet: Under 2.5 goals, Jesus Navas and Adrien Rabiot to be shown a card 0.5pts at 15/1 with starsports.bet


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