The stage is set and battle lines have been drawn. On Monday, 11 July 2016, Portugal will take on France in an all-important final to decide the champions of Europe. As much as we look forward to this one last clash, we can’t but take a quick recap of the journey these two teams have had in the tournament.
Euro 2016 Journey
The red and green army had a forgettable group stage outing where they merely managed to qualify for the play-offs with a 3-3 draw against Hungary in the final group game.
But since then Fernando Santos’ men have grown from strength to strength. Brushing off Croatia in the Round of 16, beating Poland in the quarterfinals and ending the dream run for Wales in semis have instilled a lot of confidence on the initially shaky Portugal side. They will be all pumped for a second shot at the Euro Cup trophy, one which slipped out of their hands 12 years ago.
The host nation had an easy outing in the group stages, only being held by Switzerland in the final group game.
The knockout stages have been terrific for France with comprehensive wins in all three games. They beat Ireland (2-1) in the Round of 16, ran over Iceland (5-2) in the Quarterfinals and put an end to the German juggernaut (2-0) in the Semis. Riding on the incredible support from home fans, France looks to repeat its 1984 Euro Championship heroics once again on home soil.
Portugal Vs France: Head to Head
The head to head stats between Portugal and France hugely favours the host nation which has had a rampaging dominance over Portugal since 1978. In the last 10 meetings between the two nations, France has won every encounter. And, if history doesn’t have a say in the present state of affairs, Portugal seems to be in even more trouble. They are up against probably the strongest French line-up of all time and that too on French soil – couldn’t get worse than that!
There are some key player battles to watch out for in the Euro 2016 final between Portugal and France.
Pepe Vs Koscielny
The defensive wall for Portugal and Real Madrid’s star player, Pepe was ruled out Portugal’s semifinal game against Wales due to a thigh injury. However, the excellent centre-back is expected to be back for the finals to provide a strong defence for Portugal against an attacking France. His ability to tactically nullify attacks and defend his corner of the net with utmost efficiency will play a key role in deciding the outcome.
Meanwhile, Koscielny has been consistent throughout the tournament with no dip in performances. After a major blow to France with the loss of Raphael Varane and Aymeric Laporte before the Euro Cup, Koscielny has put himself in the heart of defence and made things easier for the hosts. His contribution will be crucial to making sure that France’s defence remains steady.
Pogba Vs Carvalho
Paul Pogba might not have had an amazing Euro as many expected but the influential midfielder produced his best display against Germany where he also setup Antoine Griezmann for the second goal from wide. If he can play his part in the final, there is no doubt that France will lift the European Cup on home soil.
On the other side, William Carvalho missed Portugal’s semifinal against Wales due to suspension but the defensive-midfielder will be in action during the finals. His toughness in tackless and wonderful possession skills will be a key factor to look forward to. And, will he be able to contain the swift and unpredictable Pogba? That will be another clash to wait and watch as well.
Ronaldo Vs Griezmann
The talismans of two of the fiercest competing clubs in Spain – Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are up against each other. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) leads the Portuguese attack while Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid) has been the lethal attack for France in the front.
While Ronaldo has been the sole superstar for Portugal, Griezmann has outshone his teammates including Paul Pogba and Oliver Giroud to become France’s saviour at crucial times. As the two familiar club rivals meet on Sunday for an epic clash, it will be the better commanding man who will take his team to the Euro Cup triumph.
Watch the Game
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Schedule: Monday, 11 July 2016 at 12:30 AM (IST) live on Sony SIX and Sony ESPN.