Spain and France, the two finalists of EuroBasket 2011, are used to be at the final stages of final tournaments by now and their match-up at the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship 2012 is hardly a surprise.
Spain, the U20 defending champions, has had a mixed experience in Slovenia, starting the First Round with three victories, but then losing three in a row in the Second Round. However, the Spaniards picked up the pace at the right time in their quarter-final against Germany, taking an easy 73-47 victory.
|Daniel Diez is expected to carry part of the weight again for Spain|
The story has been quite similar for France too, but, unlike Spain they had a poor First Round, before bouncing back in the second stage. Having advanced to the quarter-final as the fourth seed, France ended Slovenia's six game winning streak with a 77-54 win.
Spain has the second-best defensive record in the tournament, allowing only 62.4 points per game, while scoring 75.1 per game, which is good enough for the fourth result amongst all teams. The French team ranks third in points allowed with 63.1 points and sixth in offensive production with 73.1 points.
The French side has an athletic advantage over any other team in the tournament and leads the competition in blocks with a 5.1 per game. Rudy Gobert alone blocks 3.4 shots per game, while the whole Spanish team records an average of only 1.4 blocks a game.
With an average of 14.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, Daniel Diez has been the key man for Spain, getting solid contribution from Jaime Fernandez and Alejandro Abrines.
Fernandez is averaging 12.4 points and 2.1 assists, while Abrines collects 10.9 points and 3.7 per game, in a fast paced Spanish offense, based on pushing the ball at every opportunity.
Leo Westermann has shown glimpses of his talent throughout the tournament but also signs of inconsistency and remains the biggest key to the French game with an average of 13.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
Axel Toupane was solid for France throughout the tournament, averaging 11.9 points and 3.3 rebounds, while Gobert's length and athleticism provides a lot of advantages for France, especially on the defensive end.
It will be tough to pick a favourite in this match-up, which is expected to be decided on details.