We create hot (Te > 200 eV) and dense (Ne > 1023 cm−3) plasmas in the colliding zone of two thin foils accelerated by two laser beams of the LULI facilities. Three spectroscopic diagnostics (two 1D space-resolved spectrographs and a 2D monochromatic imaging) are used to drive the efficiency of the compression. We show that 2D effects are important. Realistic simulations of these experiments must be done, taking into account the inhomogeneity of the laser intensity in the focal spot, the foil distorsion, the plasma lateral expansion, and the lateral thermal conduction. Two-dimensional LASNEX code results are in good agreement with our experimental results. The optimized compressed plasmas generated are favorable for the exhibition of dense plasma effects due to molecular formations, and they reproduce in laboratory some astrophysical situations.