The European Championship Final - Sunday, July 10
Stade de France, 8pm
Euro 2016 comes to its conclusion on Sunday night when hosts France take on Portugal at the Stade de France in Paris. France haven’t lost a match on home soil in 18 matches in tournament football, and they’ll be hoping to make Portugal their 19th scalp on Sunday. Portugal have never won a major trophy and they’ll be looking to go one better than the final of 2004 when they lost 0-1 to Greece in front of their home fans.
Both sides should be back to a full compliment for this one. France welcomed back Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante for their semi final against Germany, though neither man featured in Didier Deschamps starting line-up. Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho returns from suspension for the final, where he could replace Danilo in midfield, and though he missed the semi final against Wales, Pepe is expected to recover from a thigh injury in time for the final.
France look to be finding top gear just at the right time in Euro 2016. At times they looked anything but champions elect during the group stages, but as soon as they got over the shock of an early Robbie Brady goal in the Round of 16, they’ve dramatically improved to comfortably put away first Iceland and then Germany in Thursday night’s semi final.
In Antoine Griezmann France have Euro 2016’s outstanding player. He is to be named player of the tournament, and you’d feel that only a match winning performance in the final from Dmitri Payet or Cristiano Ronaldo looks capable of denying him the accolade. Griezmann has now has 6 goals and 2 assists to his name and he is to open the scoring in the final.
It’s safe to say that unless you backed them pre-tournament Portugal would not be popular winners on Sunday night. At least in the semi final against Wales they finally showed that they are more than a team who can draw matches, but even the nature of that victory was workmanlike rather than inspiring and eye-catching. However history doesn’t record the team who was most entertaining, history remembers the team who wins the tournament. Portugal should feel this more acutely than anyone having been losing finalists to the most one-dimensional side ever to win a major tournament; Greece in 2004.
Portugal rely on a simple formula to win matches. They try to be tough to break down and resolute defensively and then rely on their star names, especially Cristiano Ronaldo, to grab them a goal. Ronaldo has 3 goals and 3 assists to his name and the former Man Utd midfielder Nani has 3 goals and 1 assist. Those two obviously provide the creative spark, but in Renato Sanches, they have the tournament’s most eye-catching young player.
Those three players look most likely to grab a goal for the Portuguese. Ronaldo can be backed at to score anytime, whilst Nani looks great value at . Renato Sanches who scored a deflected goal against Poland can be backed at to open the scoring in the final.
Though the eyes of Europe will be on this match on Sunday night, it’s reasonable to expect another cagey affair. Backing the 0-0 at half time looks great value as neither side has come flying out of the blocks to date. Ultimately though, you’d hope that France have enough to prevail. I fancy this one to follow the pattern of the Germany game. I think France will opening the scoring in the second half, and as Portugal press for an equaliser, a second goal would kill the contest.
France: Predicted XI: 4-2-3-1
Lloris (c) – Sagna, Umtiti, Kolscielny, Evra – Matuidi, Pogba – Sissoko, Payet, Greizmann – Giroud
Portugal: Predicted XI: 4-4-2
Patricio – Guerreiro, Pepe, Fonte, Soares – Mario, Sanches, Danilo, Silva – Nani, Ronaldo (c)
- Antoine Griezmann first goalscorer @
- 0-0: Half-Time Correct Score @
- France to win 2-0 @
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