Euro 2016 comes to an end in Paris, with Portugal and France playing in the final, as Cristiano Ronaldo tries to lead his nation to its first major international title, while Antoine Griezmann hopes to cement his ascent to the elite of world football, while leading Les Bleus to their third European Championship trophy.
- This is the second time Portugal are in the Euro finals. When they hosted the tournament in 2004, they also made the title match. However, they lost 1-0 to Greece. Cristiano Ronaldo started in that match, and so did Ricardo Carvalho.
- This is France’s third Euro final, winning both of their previous ventures to the last match. In 1984, when hosting the tournament, they beat Spain 2-0 with goals from Michel Platini and Bruno Bellone. In 2000, they beat Italy 2-1 in the final, sending the match into extra time with a 93rd minute goal by Sylvain Wiltord, and a 103rd minute golden goal by David Trezeguet.
Road to the Final
- Portugal disappointed in the group stage, finishing third with three draws. They drew 1-1 against Iceland (Nani scoring), had a 0-0 draw with Austria, and came from behind three times against Hungary in a 3-3 draw, as Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo (twice) produced the goals. In the round of 16, after 117 excruciating minutes, Ricardo Quaresma scored the winning goal against Croatia. In the quarter final, following a 1-1 score after 120 minutes (Renato Sanches scored), they beat Poland in a penalty shootout. In the semifinal, they beat Wales 2-0, with Ronaldo and Nani scoring again, the two of them with 3 goals each in the tournament
- France finished first in the group stage, opening the tournament with a 2-1 win against Romania, as Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet (89th minute) got on the scoresheet. They beat Albania 2-0 with another late Payet goal, and also the first for Antoine Griezmann. They closed the group with a 0-0 draw against Switzerland. In the round of 16, they came from behind to beat Ireland 2-1, with a three-minute brace by Griezmann. They beat Iceland 5-2 in the quarterfinal, Giroud scoring twice, Griezmann finding the net again, Paul Pogba and Payet joining them. In the semifinal, they beat Germany 2-0 with a brace for Griezmann, who is the tournament’s top scorer with 6 goals. Both Giroud and Payet have scored 3 each
And the match we’re going to have…
France are the favorites, but besides playing tactical, sometimes boring football, Portugal, with Fernando Santos pulling the strings, have shown they can adapt quite well to their opponent in each match. They overloaded the wings in the semifinal to cancel out Wales’ strength there, and do the same in the middle of the pitch, like in their match against Croatia or Poland. One area that France are weak at is left and right back. While France feel less comfortable having possession, Portugal should focus on attacking the wings with Nani and for Ronaldo to be a bit more mobile than usual. He doesn’t need to leave his centre forward role all the time, but moving left or right from time to time to put pressure on Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra could be very beneficial.
The trick for France remain the same. Giroud bulldozing in front, Griezmann taking advantage of the open space behind him, while Pogba and Payet join them as a second and third wave of attack. They key here is doing well enough in the middle of the pitch to allow Moussa Sissoko and Blaise Matuidi the luxury of helping out on the wings. If Evra and Sagna find themselves in too many one on ones, this could spell trouble for France, who have more attacking options and overall the ability to change, but they don’t have Cristiano Ronaldo.