Sunday 8 December 2019

Spain left cursing as need for replenishment is exposed

France 1 Spain 0

France's Loic Remy (R) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Spain during their international friendly soccer match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris (REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
France's Loic Remy (R) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Spain during their international friendly soccer match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris (REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Chris Bascombe

Spain hope their post-World Cup revival will be inspired by a Chelsea striker, but they were left cursing Diego Costa's Stamford Bridge deputy in Paris.

Loic Remy - signed as cover for the £32m man - struck France's winner in this friendly. While Costa fed off scraps before being substituted on 66 minutes, Remy pounced with 17 minutes to go to pose more questions about how the European champions will cope with the exodus of so many of their superstars.

Their coach, Vicente Del Bosque, led his side into the Stade de France unveiling a change of personnel but reaffirming a familiar philosophy.

The former world champions do not need a revolution, just replenishing following the retirements of Xavi and Xabi Alonso. With Andres Iniesta also absent for the friendly in Paris, replacing one of the most technically gifted midfields in history was never going to be seamless but the world has not changed so much.

France coach Didier Deschamps gave the impression he'd been studying Spain's defeat to Holland for the last three months, casting Newcastle's Moussa Sissoko in the Arjen Robben role and playing on the counter-attack.

Karim Benzema should have put France ahead on 26 minutes, miskicking tamely with only David de Gea to beat. The Real Madrid striker also had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside three minutes into the second half.

The game then began to drift, but Remy's appearance was the catalyst for a breakthrough. Found in space by the impressive Blaise Matuidi, Remy struck first time with his left foot. De Gea could only watch.

On balance, France deserved their win for a much improved second half. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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