Going For Gold: Spain Vs. France

19 July 2009
by Joseph Wilson

You always want the two best teams to make the final, and that is exactly what we have in store for the title medal game of the U20 European Championship Women 2009 in Gdynia, Poland.

Spain and France are undefeated at 8-0 and both teams have deep benches and multiple resources to draw on.

But that is where the similarities end. 

6. Tamara Abalde (Spain)
Tamara Abalde will have a busy night against the French frontline
Spain's undisputed leader is their super-fast and super-talented small forward Alba Torrens.  She is the engine of their attack and impossible to stop in the open court.

France head coach Alain Jardel predicts a very tough final for his team.

"Spain is at a higher level, it will be very difficult for us," Jardel said after his team's Semi-Final win over Latvia.

"Spain is a step above."

France are by far the most well-balanced team in the championship. 

They get points from both inside and out and can rotate three tall, physical and skilled post players in Marielle Amant, Doriane Tahane and Ana Cata-Chitiga.

"France is really tough inside. They have very good centers," said Spain's power forward Tamara Abalde.

"It will be a very physical game, and we have to be very aggressive to beat them."

But individuals aside, today's contest will be more about temperament than style of play. 

While it is true that the Spanish can run you off the court in the blink of an eye and that France like to wear you down with a steady stream of body blows, the real difference lies in the emotional energy these two teams transmit on the court.

Spain feed off the havoc their fastbreak provokes. For coach Jordi Fernandez's team, every turnover or rebound is a chance to make their opponent pay and each score charges his team to play with greater intensity. 

The French, on the other hand, are so steady that even when they have troubling scoring the ball, they never lose their composure and make hitting clutch shots look like a shoot-around.

The difference between gold and silver will hinge on which team's character can impose itself on the court today.

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