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Euro 2024 – Spain v France: How training in sandals sparked Spanish into life

A BBC graphic featuring Guillem Balague

Every game so far has provided a different test for this Spain side and in every case they have risen to the task.

Against Croatia it was about winning the possession battle, while the Italy game once again served as a reminder as to where we are placed in the international pecking order.

Against Albania and then Georgia we showed that we could win the contest against two sides that were always going to defend deep.

Against Germany, Spain may well have ridden their luck but most importantly never lost focus.

In the end they played three games in one, firstly with the threat down the flanks with the young wingers, before a failed attempt to take control of the centre when they were replaced, and then finally with another striker in a 4-2-4 formation in extra time which paid dividends.

This Spanish side earned their luck for having the courage of their convictions, daring to change the script.

By the end of proceedings Nacho could hardly move, Laporte was doubled up with pain in his back, while Rodri, who has played more than 5,000 minutes this season, was out on his feet.

In a performance so team-driven, it seems almost like bad manners to single out one particular player.

But Olmo – on from the seventh minute following Pedri’s injury – shone like a beacon.

He now has five assists in two European Championships – a Spain record – and was the scorer of their first and provider of Merino’s match-winner.

But perhaps his greatest success was remaining unfazed by the pressure put on him by Germany, and acting as chief organiser of the game as he set about putting on a performance for his country that will be talked about for years.

With France up next there is a respectful belief within the Spain camp that they have it in them to take the next step to renewed glory.

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Written by Joseph

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