STAR PREVIEW Sun: SPAIN v FRANCE

The second edition of the UEFA Nations League takes place tonight in Milan and neutral fans could be set for an exciting encounter between Spain and France. The pair played their part in a gripping pair of semi-finals, with Spain ending Italy’s world record unbeaten run at the San Siro whilst France staged a spectacular comeback against Belgium from two goals down, topped off with a 90th minute winner for good measure from Theo Hernandez.

The two sides impressed in different ways in midweek, with Spain having more overall control against Euro 2020 winners Italy, who were already coming off second best when Leonardo Bonucci was sent off in the 42nd minute, whilst France were saved by the brilliance of Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema, both of whom scored (whilst Mbappe created the first).

Spain v France
7.45pm UEFA Nations League Final
Sky Sports Main Event HD / Sky Sports Football HD / Sky Sports Ultra HD

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
MAR 2017 FRIENDLY France 0-2 Spain
SEP 2014 FRIENDLY France 1-0 Spain
MAR 2013 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING France 0-1 Spain
OCT 2012 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING Spain 1-1 France
JUN 2012 EURO 2012 Spain 2-0 France
MAR 2010 FRIENDLY France 0-2 Spain
FEB 2006 WORLD CUP Spain 1-3 France
MAR 2001 FRIENDLY Spain 2-1 France
JUN 2000 EURO 2000 Spain 1-2 France

The way Spain limited Italy to a lack of decent chances – bar a super goal against the run of play for Lorenzo Pellegrini after a brilliant Federico Chiesa counter-attack – bodes well for their chances tonight, but Luis Enrique’s side had been defensively open during the Euros with Pau Torres a particularly weak point during most stages of the tournament.

France’s brilliance is all too clear to see – just ask Roberto Martinez and the Belgians – but they’re also vulnerable defensively. Lucas Hernandez, Raphael Varane, and Joules Kounde struggled to cope with Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Yannick Carassaco, whilst Benjamin Pavard was exposed on the right.

Switzerland may have eliminated France from Euro 2020 on penalties in a game which ebbed and flowed, and it’s not hard to see a similar scenario here. If Ferran Torres – Spain’s outstanding player and scorer of both goals in midfield on Wednesday – starts then his link up with Mikel Oyarzabal can cause France serious problems, and the Spanish defence could be just as vulnerable against France’s dynamite duo.

Both teams to score has landed in six of Spain’s last nine internationals, and six of France’s last seven, so the 17/20 on that could be the best play, whilst 11/2 on Ferran Torres scoring first could be value if France make another slow start too.

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