DONETSK, UKRAINE - JUNE 23: Xabi Alonso (L) of Spain celebrates after scoring the first goal with team mates during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between Spain and France at Donbass Arena on June 23, 2012 in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Spain Vs. France, Euro 2012: Xabi Alonso Fires Spain To Semifinals

Xabi Alonso scored a goal in each half as defending champions Spain cruised past a toothless France.

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Vicente del Bosque has turned some of this generation's greatest players into a gaggle of unstoppable dullards, but the onus is on someone else to stop them.

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Spain Vs. France, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals: Final Score, Spain Reach Semis With 2-0 Win

Spain defeated France 2-0 to advance to the semifinals of Euro 2012 thanks to a brace from Xabi Alonso. Most games improve with early goals. Not Spanish ones. It was clear from the outset that the only real chance France had was to hold their illustrious opposition scoreless. After they failed to contain Jordi Alba's burst down the left flank and Alonso's subsequent far-post run, which resulted in a lovely headed finish past Hugo Lloris, it never really looked like they were going to be able to come back.

They weren't. Although they did come out with a more positive attitude in the second half, introducing the likes of Olivier Giroud, Samir Nasri and Jeremy Menez in order to push Spain deeper, Iker Casillas' goal was never under serious threat. The only strike of particular quality he had to stop was a long-range free kick from Yohan Cabaye in the early stages. France's inability to put their opponents under siege meant that, despite only holding a one-goal lead for most of the match, there was never any tension.

And then in injury time any hope of the match becoming interesting burst like a sad balloon when Anthony Reveillere bundled over Pedro in the penalty area. Alonso stepped up to the spot and swept home to complete the victory, as Spain become the first defending champions to reach the semifinals since Holland in 1992. They'll play Portugal on Wednesday.

So, yeah, it wasn't a great game. Not that anyone was expecting one. Bring on England vs. Italy, which is expected to be a not-great game in a completely different way!

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Spain Vs. France, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals: La Roja Sticking To The Script, Up 1-0

So far, neither France or Spain has done anything to dispel anyone's pre-game predictions about their Euro 2012 quarterfinal. France have set up more defensively than in previous games, and it hasn't worked that well. France aren't playing terribly and their defending has been decent, but Spain were able to find one goal. They lead 1-0 at halftime, and they're probably going to sit on that lead.

Spain's goal came from a spectacular run down the left flank and cross by Jordi Alba, who France had no answer for. He blew by both of the right backs that France is playing and swung a cross towards the back post. Xabi Alonso was sitting deep and was being "tracked" by Florent Malouda, but Malouda stood still and simply let Alonso run into the box uncontested. He got onto the end of Alba's cross and headed it down towards the back post for the opening goal.

France look like they're capable of keeping Spain from scoring again and like they're capable of scoring on the counter, but it certainly doesn't look likely. Laurent Blanc has to figure out a way to keep Spain from keeping the ball for the next 45 minutes, which is much more difficult than it sounds.

We'll have live coverage of the game in our Spain vs. France, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Spain Vs. France, Euro 2012: Xabi Alonso Header Gives Spain Lead

Spain have just scored. With a header. From an open-play cross. If you put money on that happening, you're now rich. Congratulations.

Jordi Alba made things happen, skipping down the left flank and evading a despairing attempt by Mathieu Debuchy to bring him down just outside the box. Having found some space, Alba recognised an unmarked far post run from Xabi Alonso, and he picked it out perfectly with a high cross that the Real Madrid midfielder met on the run. Alonso's header was superb, hit into the ground and back across Hugo Lloris' goal, and neither the goalkeeper not Gael Clichy could prevent it nestling in the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

So, now France have to attack rather than just hope Spain don't score. Good luck with that, France.

We have live coverage of the game in our Spain vs. France, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Spain Vs. France, Euro 2012: Lineups

You know what's awesome? A football match with eleven midfielders. ELEVEN. We've had one of these already when Spain played Italy, but at least the Azzurri had the good grace to have two recognised strikers on the pitch. France have one - Karim Benzema (he's quite good). Spain have none. They're doing the false nine thing with Cesc Fabregas again, while their opponents try to pack as many bodies into the centre as possible in order to avoid the threat posed by Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and company. Is this going to be fun? No, probably not.

Spain starting lineup (4-3-3): Iker Casillas; Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Alvardo Arbeloa; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez; Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva.

France starting lineup (4-5-1): Hugo Lloris; Gael Clichy, Laurent Koscielny, Adil Rami, Anthony Reveillere; Franck Ribery, Florent Malouda, Yann M'Vila, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy; Karim Benzema.

We'll have live coverage of the game in our Spain vs. France, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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