Football Features

Spain U-21 4-1 France U-21: Every player rated as Fornals magic has West Ham fans drooling

By Chris Smith

Published: 22:06, 27 June 2019

Spain came from behind to crush France 4-1 in the Uefa European U-21 Championships semi-final on Thursday night.

Les Bleus took an early lead through a Jean-Philippe Mateta penalty but Spain soon got to grips with their counterparts, with the likes of Pablo Fornals and Dani Ceballos running riot in midfield.

Read on to see how every player rated as Spain booked their spot in Sunday’s final.

Spain

Antonio Sivera – 7 – Made a great save to deny Mateta just after Spain had gone behind, which proved vital.

Junior Firpo – 8 – Only his slight poor decision making and guilt in conceding a penalty stopped him getting a higher rating, but Firpo’s movement behind the French defence caused no end of problems. Looks like a serious talent.

Jesus Vallejo – 6 – Was able to sit back and help recycle possession for much of the match as Spain quickly got to grips with France and forced them into submission.

Unai Nunez – 6 – Like Vallejo, not tested anywhere near enough defensively. Will likely have a tougher night in the final against Germany.

Martin Aguirregabiria – 6 – Wasn’t as involved as Firpo, with much of Spain’s good play coming down the left. Still, put in a very solid defensive performance and made three tackles, the joint-highest among Spanish players.

Marc Roca – 8 – Made a match-high 58 successful passes and lost Ballo-Toure from a corner to score Spain’s equaliser. Helped control things in a very, very talented Spain midfield.

Fabian Ruiz – 9 – Fantastic all-round performance from the Napoli man, who assisted Spain’s third goal, made two tackles and helped totally dominate in midfield.

Pablo Fornals – 9 – Wonderful movement to drift inside and allow Firpo space to terrify the French defence. Slipped his left-sided partner in on a number of occasions with some expert passing and what about that delivery for Mayoral’s goal that got West Ham fans drooling?

Dani Ceballos – 9 – Like Fornals, kept on finding Firpo behind the French defence. Absolutely run the show and was at the centre of almost everything Spain did well. Clubs will be lining up for him based on these displays, should Real Madrid still wish to part ways.

Dani Olmo – 7 – Certainly the quieter of Spain’s attacking contingent, which is frightening considering he scored their third goal. Still looked classy and accomplished whenever he was involved and worked hard defensively.

Mikel Oyarzabal – 8 – Lucky not to see a card for a nasty challenge on Guendouzi early on. Was excellent other than that and took his penalty – which he won – in cool, calm fashion.

Subs:

Borja Mayoral (63 mins, for Oyarzabal) – 8 – A wonderful strike into the top corner just three minutes after coming on.

Carlos Soler (74 mins, for Ceballos) – 6 – Replaced the brilliant Ceballos late on, unlucky not to score when Ballo-Toure cleared off the line at the end.

Mikel Merino (85 mins, for Ruiz) – 6 – Came on too late to have any real effect.

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France

Paul Bernadoni – 7 – Could do very little about the Spanish goals and made some good saves to keep things respectable for Les Bleus.

Colin Dagba – 6 – Looked like he would offer a threat from right-back before being forced off with an injury early on following an innocuous challenge on Firpo.

Ibrahima Konate – 4 – Gave away the penalty for Spain’s second to compound what was an unconvincing, error-prone night for the RB Leipzig man.

Dayot Upamecano – 6 – Looked like the only French defender capable of stopping the Spanish tide on Thursday but was overrun thanks to those around him.

Fode Ballo-Toure – 4 – Lost Roca from the corner for the equaliser, although man-to-man marking systems should take the blame for these errors. Still, a poor night defensively where he never really convinced.

Lucas Tousart – 6 – Left the field just before the hour mark having made three tackles, more than any France player at that point. Spent most of his time trying to put out fires as the Spanish midfield ran riot around him, meaning he wasn’t able to showcase his talent.

Matteo Guendouzi – 6 – Brilliant pass to Ikone to set up Mateta’s chance just after France had taken the lead. Was on the end of some rough treatment from the Spanish but kept trying to make things tick in midfield while doing his best to shield the French defence.

Houssem Aouar – 5 – Far too quiet in midfield for a player with so much Champions League experience. Poor delivery from set pieces and sloppy in possession.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – 7 – Charged well into the Spanish box to win France’s penalty and his pace was one of the few positives on a poor night for his side. Completed more dribbles (4) than any other player.

Jonathan Ikone – 5 – Great movement to get onto the end of a Guendouzi pass in the first half, which would have yielded an assist but for Mateta’s wastefulness. Also stung the hands of Sivera with a good free-kick in the second half. Still, has had better nights in this tournament and was caught in possession for Spain’s fourth.

Jean-Philippe Mateta – 4 – A well-taken penalty but really should have done better with his chance just a minute later. Had he scored that, this game could have been quite different.

Subs:

Kelvin Amian (23 mins, for Dagba) – 4 – Replaced Dagba early on but simply couldn’t get to grips with Firpo’s movement.

Moussa Dembele (58 mins, for Tousart) – 5 – Replaced Tousart as France searched for a route back into the game but was unable to provide what was required.

Marcus Thuram (71 mins, for Mateta) – 5 – Had little effect on the game after replacing Mateta.

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