5:00 AM (AEST) Monday, July 11 at Stade de France, Saint-Denis
The final of the UEFA Euro Championships will be played this weekend between host nation France and Portugal.
France: Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Évra; Pogba, Sissoko, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Payet.
Portugal: Rui Patrício; Cédric, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Raphäel Guerreiro; Danilo, João Mário, João Moutinho, Adrien Silva; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo.
There have been 24 previous clashes between these two great football nations, with France holding a significant advantage, having won 18 games whereas Portugal has won just 5. There has also been a drawn game. France has won the last 10 games, which date back to 1978. Their last meeting was in September last year, where France won 1-0.
Host nation France were also seemingly reserved in their Group matches, beating Romania 2-1, Albania 2-0 before being held to a scoreless draw with Switzerland in the final group match. It was still enough for them to secure top spot in their group though. They then came from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in the Round of 16. They then hammered the Iceland side that ended England’s tournament, by a dominant 5-2. This pitted them against World Champions Germany in the Semi final, which France won in an impressively emphatic manner 2-0.
Portugal were quite lucky to sneak into the knock out stage after they finished third in the group. They drew all three of their group matches against Iceland 1 all, Austria 0 all and Hungary 3 all. The 4 best third placed sides qualified for the knockout stage. Portugal finished third and were the only team to reach the playoffs without having won a single game. They looked set to score a 4th straight draw in the Round of 16 against Croatia, before a Quaresma goal in extra time gave them their first win. They then drew 1 all with Poland in the Quarters, but got through to the semi after winning the shootout 5-3. Portugal then ended the impressive campaign by Wales, with a 2-0 victory of their own in the semi-final.
Griezmann v Cristiano Ronaldo – both strikers found the back of the net in their last match, resulting in a timely return to form for both classy players.
France’s run to the final has been somewhat tougher and they have played superbly to reach this game. Their form all tournament has been quite consistent and improving over recent games. Portugal though in comparison, stumbled into the knockout and had a much easier run to the final. They will need to show a vast improvement if they are to beat France.