France will take on Spain in the most anticipated clash of this round of World Cup 2014 Qualifiers. France do not have the best of records against Spain, having lost four and winning just one of their last six fixtures against La Roja. TheHardTackle rewinds the clock to this one particular fixture when a talented French side, led by the majestic Zidane, overcame Spain in some style to advance to the Quarter-finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
“Retirement? I’m sorry to tell them that it won’t be after this match.” – Zidane in the Post-match Press Conference.
Spain 1-3 France
AWD Arena, Hannover, Germany
27 June 2006
The line-ups of both the teams featured some of the most decorated names in the history of the game. Spain had the likes of Raul, Casillas, Puyol and Xavi in their ranks while the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Lillian Thuram, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira lined up for France. Zidane and Raul, fellow Real Madrid stars, captained their respective sides.
Spain struck first blood at the half hour mark as a scrappy challenge by Thuram on Pablo Ibanez in the French penalty area led to the Italian referee awarding Spain a penalty. Valencia striker David Villa stepped up and coolly dispatched the penalty in the bottom left corner. Fabian Barthez guessed it right but could do nothing to stop the low precise shot.
France weren’t exactly in the move to give up. Seizing control of the game in the midfield through Makelele and Vieira, France began to dominate the proceedings and were awarded in the 41st minute. Makelele won the ball from Raul and passed it to Ribery. The former Marseille man then exchanged passes with Vieira, the latter setting the former free with a pass under pressure, and dragging the ball wide of onrushing Casillas, finished with his left foot. He celebrated by running almost half the length of the pitch, like the flying Frenchman he is.
The game descended into a stalemate as neither side could find an opening. That is until the final 10 minutes when, France having been awarded a free kick, Zidane floated the ball into the box for Vieira to somehow squeeze the ball past Casillas. The French were ecstatic, Spain were crestfallen and the former Arsenal captain disappeared under a pile of bodies. As Spain pushed for a late equalizer, there were bound to be mistakes. In the second minute of extra time, Puyol passed the ball to Ibanez, who surrendered possession under pressure from three French players. In a 3v3 situation, France broke through the middle. Substitute Sylvain Wiltord provided a brilliant one touch pass to put Zidane through, who gracefully skipped Puyol’s challenge to finish past Casillas. The Master celebrated with the fans as France went through to the Quarter Finals and Spain took the flight back home. The night belonged to Les Bleus.