Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Final Tips – Portugal v France
Portugal v France
After four weeks of football, it all comes down to this.
France V Portugal, Sunday 10th July (20.00), BBC One/ITV/RTE 2/TV3
The final of the 2016 European Championships is held in Paris on Sunday night, with Portugal and tournament hosts France set to go head-to-head for the silverware.
Les Bleus are potentially just 90 minutes away from completing a historic hat-trick of home victories in major tournaments, having previously won both the 1984 European Championships and the 1998 World Cup on home soil.
Griez The Man
Antoine Griezmann’s dramatic double was enough for Didier Deschamps’ side against Germany in Thursday’s semi-final tie in Marseille and the Atletico Madrid man will be hopeful that he can add to his impressive tally of six goals.
Only Michel Platini, with a remarkable haul of nine in France’s triumph 32 years ago, has bettered the total accumulated by Griezmann thus far in a single European Championships tournament and, with five of those goals having come in his last three appearances for Les Bleus…
it would take a brave man to bet against the in-form front man grabbing another goal in Sunday’s showdown.
Deschamps’ men were slow starters in the early stages of the competition, solid rather than spectacular throughout the group stages, but the hosts have come to life in the knockout stages of the tournament.
A stirring second-half fightback saw off Republic of Ireland in the last 16, before France produced, arguably, the best performance of any team in the tournament as they fired five past Iceland to set up a semi-final showdown against Joachim Low’s team.
Les Bleus will, most certainly, be buoyant having beaten the world champions in the semi-finals and, although Deschamps’ men will be careful not to underestimate the threat posed by Portugal, France seem destined to start the party in Paris on Sunday night by securing the silverware.
Portugal and, of course, their captain Cristiano Ronaldo suffered the agony of defeat on home turf in this competition when they suffered a shock defeat against Greece in 2004 – and Santos’ side would love to inflict that misery upon Les Bleus this weekend.
It is remarkable to recall that defeat against Hungary in their final group game – a match in which Portugal trailed three times – would have meant elimination from the competition for Fernando Santos’ men.
Indeed, Portugal had not won a match inside 90 minutes prior to their semi-final victory over Wales, for Santos’ team needed extra time to defeat Croatia in the round of 16 before seeing off Poland on penalties in the quarter-finals.
Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock against Chris Coleman’s charges on Wednesday night and there is no doubt that the Real Madrid man is pivotal to Portugal’s dream of claiming their first major trophy.
Portugal’s talisman took his tally for the tournament to three with the opening goal of the game in Lille and, having already become the first man to score in four European Championships finals tournaments, Ronaldo will look to break yet another scoring record on Sunday night.
The 31-year-old forward equalled Platini’s record of nine European Championships goals with a thumping header against the Dragons – and another strike on Sunday will see the Real Madrid man write his name into the record books.
No One-Man Team
Portugal, though, will not rely on Ronaldo alone; former Manchester United star Nani has also notched three goals in France and will be desperate to make an impact in this match, while 18-year-old Renato Sanches, who secured a big-money move to Bayern Munich this summer, will be keen to further enhance his burgeoning reputation with a big performance in Sunday’s showpiece.
Furthermore, Portugal have conceded just one goal in the knockout stages of the competition; Santos’ side will hope to maintain that defensive discipline and trust the pace and power of their impressive attacking triumvirate of Ronaldo, Nani and Sanches to bring them joy on the counter-attack.
The win against Wales was the first time that the Portuguese have won a competitive fixture by a margin greater than a single goal under the stewardship of Santos and they will believe that they are capable of finding redemption for the 1-0 reverse that they suffered at the hands of Greece in the final of this competition 12 years ago.
History, though, is against Portugal for they have lost each of their last 10 matches against Les Bleus and Santos’ team will need to be at their very best if they are to buck that trend in Sunday’s final.
France, therefore, are a solid selection at 20/21 to win inside 90 minutes and punters should snap up that generous price
…for Didier Deschamps’ charges to enjoy a historic home victory in Paris on Sunday evening.
France to win at 20/21
*Prices correct at time of publication.