The battle to be crowned the best team in Europe is finally down to the last two teams, and the climactic end to an unusual tournament will see two of the biggest teams in European football history battle it out, but who will take the crown?
France were my pick pre-tournament and although they have met my prediction, they haven’t met my expectations in terms of quality. The only France game I have watched and been impressed with the team and the performance was against Iceland. Even in that game they looked fragile defensively and ended up losing the second half 2-1 (not that it really mattered).
The only quality side which France have played is Germany, and although they won the match they were totally outplayed. Germany were very much the better team and if not for two individual errors and the lack of a striker they would have almost certainly have won that match. France don’t really deserve to be in the final, they’ve scraped through so far against weak opposition, but it’s about getting there not how you got there.
Speaking of being shit all tournament and making the final…Portugal have somehow made the final despite being pretty terrible. Portugal have only won one match and it was against Wales, who despite making the semis are still pretty shit and were totally reliant on one player all tournament (Ramsey).
I struggle to think of a good Portuguese performance in this tournament, their best was probably against Austria (one of the biggest disappointments of the competition) and they ended up drawing the game 0-0. Ronaldo has had an interesting tournament, he’s had two games where he was the difference (Hungary and Wales) and then four games where he worked hard and did a lot of team work, but you need and expect more out of a player of his calibre. The rest of the Portuguese team goes as Ronaldo goes; if he’s not on it then they aren’t on it.
Both teams will likely be fully fit (Pepe is a doubt and would be a major blow to Portugal) and if both teams are fully fit then it is hard to look past France to win the final. Saying that, France have very much struggled against teams who are willing to play without the ball and Portugal will be exactly that.
The match will likely go along the lines of France controlling possession and probing and Portugal sitting back and trying to hit on the counter attack. Portugal have players who are very effective on the counter, France have a defence which is prone to conceding goals (especially at set pieces). If France aren’t careful they will find what countless other teams have found out in this tournament, that Portugal may be shit but they are also very resilient.
France of course should win; they’ve only not scored in one match, a game against Switzerland where both teams seemed happy with a 0-0. France also have the player of the tournament in Griezmann, who is on lightning how form (5 goals in the knockout stage). If France are able to get the first goal then I can’t see anything other than France going on and winning, it will force Portugal to come out and will allow the French to counter. The one thing which France can’t do is play Kante and Matuidi together, if they do they have to sacrifice Griezmann to the right wing and there will be a lack of creativity in the midfield, it would play straight into Portugal’s hands.
The great thing about a final is that anything can happen, France should be heavy favourites but there will be lots of pressure on them being the home team and such heavy favourites, and as the first few games showed, France aren’t great under pressure.
So the new champions of Europe for the next four years will be France!!! The host nation showing how best to take advantage of home field advantage. France should win, they have the better team and Portugal really aren’t on form, however they will have to be careful because Portugal are sly underdogs who really don’t have the quality to make it this far, so they have obviously been doing something right.
So what do you think of the Euro 2016 final? Are you hoping that there will be tears of joy in the French capital? Or that Ronaldo will get the international tournament win to fully cement his status as one of the greatest players of all time? Leave a comment and share those thoughts.