Euro 2016 Final preview: France vs Portugal
France will be looking to continue their incredible record at major competitions on home soil when they take on Portugal in the European Championship final on Sunday.
Les Bleus will go in to the match full of confidence, having won both of the last two major tournaments they have hosted, the 1998 World Cup and the 1984 Euros, and have beaten Portugal in the last 10 meetings between the two nations in a run stretching all the way back to 1975.
The French also had to beat world champions Germany in the semi-final, while Portugal eased past Wales.
However, the one positive for Portugal is their 2-0 win over the Welsh in the final four was their first win inside 90 minutes at the Euros and by far their best performance of the tournament, so they are seemingly hitting form at just the right time.
France have been consistently good throughout the competition and will feel like they can come away with the trophy if they are able to simply maintain the level of performance they have already shown.
The hosts will need to keep a close eye on Cristiano Ronaldo. The 31-year-old Real Madrid superstar has made no secret of his desire to win a major international tournament with Portugal and he has never, and may never again, come this close.
His determination to succeed on Sunday will be intense and hard to deal with.
“Nobody thought Portugal could reach the final,” Ronaldo said. I hope that we’ll be smiling and that it will be tears of joy in the end. I’ve always said my dream was to win a trophy with Portugal. We’re closer to doing it and I believe that we’ll win.”
The French have several key players of their own and the attacking potential at their disposal could prove nightmarish for Portugal to keep track of.
While France can focus their efforts to limit Ronaldo, the Portuguese defence will have to cope with Euros top scorer Antoine Griezmann, an in-form Dimitri Payet and the always dangerous Paul Pogba, to name just three of the options available to France going forward.
The host country has had its fair share of issues throughout the competition from striking workers to terrorism threats and head coach Didier Deschamps is glad to be able to provide some positivity to the country.
“We don’t have the power to solve people’s problems but we can generate emotions so they forget their worries. We generate passion and fervour, we can see that,” he told journalists.
France have no new injury or suspension concerns. Deschamps played the same team in both the semi and quarter-finals and is expected to do so again in the final.
Portugal are sweating over the fitness of Pepe, who missed the semi-final with a thigh injury, while William Carvalho is expected to return to the fray after serving a one-match suspension.
Article by: TEAMtalk Media