The definitive EURO 2016 final preview: France v Portugal

Everything there is to know about Monday's EURO 2016 final.

Griezmann Ronaldo

Source: Getty Images



EURO 2016 Final Portugal v France Stade de France, Saint-Denis LIVE on SBS and in HD and online from 4.14am AEST

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Players To Watch

Antoine Griezmann (FRA): Both the Golden Boot and the Player Of The Tournament are up for grabs if Griezmann can be the difference in this game. He’s probably leading both awards in any case and has now stamped himself as one of the world's best players. It’s amazing to think he was dropped against Albania in the group stages, because his response has been out of this world.

Cristiano Ronaldo (POR): Just as Lionel Messi broke Gabriel Batisituta’s scoring record for Argentina in the Copa America, Ronaldo broke Luis Figo’s appearance record for Portugal in the EUROs. But will Ronaldo again share the fate of his nemesis and fail in another final? It won’t be for lack of trying - Ronaldo will demand the ball again and again and look to probe for any weakness. His semi-final - scoring once and creating another - showed he’s ready as ever for this.

Dimitri Payet (FRA): After beginning the tournament in unstoppable fashion, Payet's influence has eased somewhat in the knockout stages, while Greizmann has gone to new heights. With the Portuguese defenders occupied by both Griezmann and the hard-working Olivier Giroud, the West Ham striker might get a prime chance or two to finish this tournament how he started it.

Renato Sanches (POR): The Bayern Munich recruit-in-waiting enjoyed a phenomenal quarter-final, saving the day against Poland and announcing himself as a star of the future - if the 18 year-old isn’t already. However, he followed that up with an anonymous performance against Wales, when it was all left to Ronaldo and Nani. He needs to get back to that quarter-final level if Portugal are to be crowned champions.

Hugo Lloris (FRA): The veteran goalkeeper was at his absolute brilliant best against Germany, mobilising the defence and repelling wave after attacking wave. His confidence will be sky high after surviving that and he’ll back himself to keep Ronaldo and Co. at bay.

Key Match-Up: Paul Pogba (FRA) v William Carvalho (POR)

Carvalho will be fresher than most after missing the quarter-final through suspension and he’ll need to be, given the Sporting Lisbon star will be tasked with breaking up France’s midfield. There’s stars everywhere in this French team but getting a hold of Pogba will be critical. The Juventus star cannot be allowed to dictate terms or Portugal are shot.



The Burning Question

France: Adil Rami or Samuel Umtiti at the back?

Rami is back after suspension but Umtiti was absolutely outstanding against Germany and perhaps did enough to book enough a spot in the final next to Laurent Koscielny at the back. There’s no doubting Umtiti’s class in any case - he’s already been signed by Barcelona for $35 million next season.

Portugal: Is Pepe fit to play?

One of the outstanding players at this tournament, Pepe has been in incredible form - and even winning a few admirers among his many critics. However, he did miss the semi-final with a thigh injury and will be locked in a race against time to play. While he’s expected to start, Bruno Alves did well enough against Wales to suggest he’s the natural replacement.



In The Dugout

Didier Deschamps (FRA)

Deschamps is already an immortal in French football history, captaining the side in their greatest hour, winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup at this very stadium - and then two years later lifting the trophy at EURO 2000. But this would elevate him to even greater heights, not least as the nation comes to grips with an 18 months that has rattled the country to its core. That he’s managed to balance the emotion of all that with talent in this squad is to his immense credit.

Fernando Santos (POR)

As coach of Greece for four years between 2010 and 2014, few are quite so well equipped as Santos to know exactly what European success - and failure - looks like. He’ll be all too aware that this is his opportunity to erase the pain of the 2004 finale, when Greece shocked the hosts. Defensive though he’s been, he's extracted the most from a squad few thought could compete with the biggest nations in France.  He'll have masterminded a plan to stifle France's flow at every opportunity.



Probable Line-ups

France (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Evra, Umtiti, Koscielny, Sagna; Pogba, Matuidi; Payet, Griezmann, Sissoko; Giroud.

France predicted line up


Portugal (4-3-1-2): Patricio; Guerreiro, Pepe, Fonte, Soares; Silva, Carvalho, Mario; Sanches; Ronaldo, Nani

Portugal predicted line up


The Key Statistics

Most goals: Antoine Griezmann (FRA) - 6 (12 on-target, 3 off target, 7 blocked), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) - 5 (12 on-target, 17 off-target, 17 blocked).

Most passes: Paul Pogba (FRA) - 321 (284 completed), Pepe (POR) - 278 (237 completed).

Total goals (for-against): France 13-4, Portugal 8-5

Total goal attempts: France - 106 (36 on target), Portugal - 112 (36 on target)

Total passes: France - 2810 (88% completed), Portugal - 3058 (87% completed)

Total cards: France 9, Portugal 7 (all yellow)

Total fouls (for-against): France 60-58, Portugal 81-82

Average possession: France 52%, Portugal 53%



Verdict

France 1-0

There's a significant class gulf between these two teams but Portugal's stingy defence will ensure it won't be easy for the hosts. However, they have such a vast array of match-winners, cheered on by such a boisterous home crowd, that anything but a French triumph is hard to see.





Road To The Final: France

 

Group A

France 2-1 Romania

France 2-0 Albania

France 0–0 Russia

 

Round of 16

France 2-1 Republic of Ireland

 

Quarter-finals

France 5–2 Iceland

 

Semi-final

France 2-0 Germany

Road To The Final: Portugal

 

Group F

Portugal 1–1 Iceland

Portugal 0–0 Austria

Hungary 3–3 Portugal

 

Round of 16

Croatia 0–1 (a.e.t.) Portugal

 

Quarter-finals

Poland 1–1 (a.e.t.) (3–5 p) Portugal

 

Semi-finals

Portugal 2-0 Wales


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6 min read
Published 9 July 2016 at 8:51pm
By Sebastian Hassett