Spain forgets France record, doping taunts at Euro
GNIEWINO, Poland (AP) -Spain's players won't be dwelling on their past record or recent doping taunts aimed at them by France when the two sides meet in the European Championship quarterfinals on Saturday.
Spain will need its first competitive victory in seven meetings with France to continue its bid for a record third straight major title. France was the last team to beat Spain in a major tournament.
Spain has endured taunting over its recent doping scandals, with a satirical French TV program picking mainly on cyclist Alberto Contador and tennis player Rafael Nadal, but also other athletes including Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The Spanish government even considered legal action against the channel, which aired video skits that drew much publicity in Spain, with many media outlets countering with suggestions that France is jealous of the country's achievements.
"All of that is being left out of this. It's true that is wasn't a very nice thing that came out but we're staying focused on Saturday's game and getting through,'' Navas said on Wednesday at the team camp in the north of Poland.
"We've got a lot of confidence in ourselves and in the coach and the only thing we should be focusing on is what happens on the field.''
Spain hasn't had much luck on the field against fellow two-time European champion France, which won its first continental title with a victory over Spain in the Euro 1984 final played on home soil.
Spain's last defeat at a major championship was a 3-1 loss to France in the second round of the 2006 World Cup, where 'Les Bleus' went on to reach the final.
Spain lost to France on penalties at Euro 2000, drew against it in the Euro 1996 group stages and lost both qualifying matches for Euro 1992, the last major tournament Spain failed to play at.
"They'll come out looking to take the game. Defensively they are very strong and they'll be playing as a unit throughout the game, knowing they have a dangerous counter because of their very fast players,'' said Navas, whose late winner in Spain's unconvincing 1-0 victory over Croatia allowed it to top Group C.
"We're very calm, we're very confident and motivated to go far in this tournament. We just need to go into every game with confidence and along the same lines as before.''
While Spain finished its group games with a second straight victory, France goes into the match on the heels of a 2-0 loss to already eliminated Sweden. Forwards Karim Benzema and Frank Ribery remain scoreless at the tournament.
"I expect a game with both teams holding long amounts of possession, lots of back and forth action,'' said reserve goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who was hopeful that Barcelona teammate and former France defender Eric Abidal would attend the game at the Donbass Arena.
"He's got a lot of teammates for one side and the other.''
The winner of Saturday's game will play either the Czech Republic or Portugal, who meet on Thursday in Warsaw.
Paul Logothetis can be reached at: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP