The Final: Portugal v France - Expert v Expert Preview


After a month of intense competition 24 are now down to two as the hosts France take on Portugal at Stade de France to become the champions of Europe.

Ahead of this mammoth clash we spoke to our experts Julien Laurens and Tom Kundert to get their thoughts on Sunday’s showpiece.

 

TEAM NEWS

Julien Laurens on France: Didier Deschamps and his players have one day less of recovery than Portugal after playing against Germany on Thursday evening. Everyone is available and Deschamps should not change his winning team. France did so well against Germany in their 4-4-2 formation and it's very unlikely that he will alter something. Even if Payet was disappointing against the Germans, he should keep his place. Antoine Griezmann is in the form of his life and his partnership with Giroud up front is working great. At the back, Samuel Umtiti was outstanding in the second half against Germany alongside Laurent Koscielny and they will face another big test against Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday evening.

Tom Kundert on Portugal: Pepe has recovered from the thigh strain that kept him out of the semi-final against Wales and the centre-back trained with the rest of the squad today (Saturday). With João Moutinho, Raphael Guerreiro and André Gomes also fully recovered from various niggles they suffered during Euro 2016, Fernando Santos has the luxury of a full and fit squad to pick from for the first time at the tournament.

 

FORM

Laurens: France beat Germany on Thursday for the first time in a big tournament since 1958! The curse is over and it is a massive boost for the players, the staff and the fans. Germany usually beat France but on Thursday France were clinical and Germany made two mistakes that cost them the game. France defended well and were efficient. The last time they lost a game that mattered was two years ago. They beat Portugal in the three other semi-finals they have contested in 1984, 2000 and 2006 and have won their last 10 encounters against them in all competitions.

Kundert: Despite earning criticism for a perceived dour style of football thus far, Portugal have played solidly, albeit unspectacularly during Euro 2016. The team has steadily improved all tournament, and gave their most convincing 45 minutes in the second half of the semi-final.

Against the Welsh, Portugal scored twice and came close to netting more on several other occasions, while looking rock solid at the back and the Seleção have only conceded one goal in the knockout stage. Manager Fernando Santos is still unbeaten in competitive play since becoming Portugal coach in September 2014, a run that now stretches to 13 matches. 

 

KEY MAN

Laurens: Antoine Griezmann is in the form of his life. He has scored 6 goals in this tournament. In the history of the European Championships, only Michel Platini has done better than that with 9 goals back in 1984. Griezmann is having an incredible tournament. He brings so much to this team, more than goals. He is such a big threat to the opposition.

Kundert: Adrien. The Sporting captain came into the team after the group stage and has not left the side since. His tenacious tackling and impressive work-rate helped to nullify Croatia’s dangerous midfield duo of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, and Santos will no doubt be instructing Adrien to do a similar job on France’s midfield driving force Paul Pogba.

 

SURE THING

Laurens: France kept an impressive clean sheet against Germany with a great defence and a wonderful Hugo Lloris. The goalkeeper is in great form too and he will keep another clean sheet on Sunday against Portugal. Koscielny has been impressive all tournament and Umtiti was a revelation against Germany. France to keep a clean sheet at 2.07.

Kundert: Portugal have been very disciplined this tournament, picking up just 7 yellow cards in 6 matches. But with no worries about suspensions for the next game, and the slippery Antoine Griezmann and powerful Pogba to deal with, that average will surely go up in Sunday’s final. And let’s face it. If any Portuguese player scores a late winner that shirt’s coming off! Over 2.5 yellow cards at 1.74 looks a more than reasonable bet. 

 

LONG SHOT 

Laurens: The 13 goals scored by France in this tournament have all been scored by forwards (Griezmann, Payet, Giroud) and Pogba. A defender will score against Portugal on Sunday. Koscielny to score at 20.00.

Kundert: Ricardo Quaresma has been if fine form and may even have started Portugal’s first match at Euro 2016 if he hadn’t picked up an injury a couple of days before the Iceland opener. If the scores are level or if Portugal are chasing a late equaliser the Besiktas winger will probably be Fernando Santos’ preferred option off the bench to try and conjure up a goal. Quaresma not to start the match and to score a goal at 10.00 is worth a punt. 

 

SCORE PREDICTION

Laurens: France 1-0 Portugal at 5.25 

Kundert: France 0-1 Portugal at 9.00