DONETSK, Ukraine (AFP) –
Laurent Blanc gave his side a defensive overhaul for their Euro 2012 quarter-final against world and European champions Spain in Donetsk on Saturday.
The France coach elected to deploy a conservative 4-3-3 formation, with right-backs Anthony Reveillere and Mathieu Debuchy doubling up on the right flank to nullify the twin threat posed by Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba.
Florent Malouda also returned to the side in place of Alou Diarra, with Karim Benzema set to play as a lone striker against several of his Real Madrid team-mates.
With Philippe Mexes suspended after being booked in the 2-0 loss to Sweden on Tuesday, Laurent Koscielny comes into the side at centre-back to make his first competitive appearance for France.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque reverted to the attacking configuration deployed in the 1-1 draw against Italy, with Cesc Fabregas expected to play as a ‘false nine’ centre-forward after being selected ahead of Fernando Torres.
Fabregas will be flanked by Iniesta and David Silva, while central midfielder Xabi Alonso wins his 100th cap with La Roja.
Starting line-ups for the Euro 2012 quarter-final between Spain and France at Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Saturday:
Iker Casillas (capt); Alvaro Arbeloa, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso; David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta
Coach: Vicente del Bosque
Hugo Lloris (capt); Anthony Reveillere, Adil Rami, Laurent Koscielny, Gael Clichy; Yohan Cabaye, Yann M’Vila, Florent Malouda; Mathieu Debuchy, Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery
Coach: Laurent Blanc
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)