Κυριακή, 10 Ιουλίου 2016

France vs Portugal: Questions Ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Final


NEWSWEEK/10-7-2016

The final will be played at the Stade de France on Sunday, with France looking for its third win as a host nation and Portugal trying to right 2004 defeat.

France may think it has already done the hard bit. Beating world champion Germany on Thursday night required grit, brawn and mental strength. The European title is within touching distance.
Having fallen into the side of the knockout draw including Germany, Spain, Italy and England, France was fortunate to avoid all but Joachim Low’s side.

Victory for Les Bleus at the Stade Velodrome felt like a final, certainly with the prospect of Portugal now being the only obstacle between them and the trophy.

But Cristiano Ronaldo and company will be keen to spoil the party. France may be just 90 minutes away from winning its third tournament as a host nation—after Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup—but Portugal will look to inflict the same pain upon the French that it suffered 12 years ago.
As host nation, back in 2004, Portugal was beaten at the final by the surprise package of the tournament, Greece. Portugal has become the nearly team of major tournaments, and victory on Sunday can shake that tag.
Here, Newsweek looks at the questions to consider before the conclusion of Euro 2016 at the Stade de France.

How will the French line up?

Didier Deschamps has tampered with his midfield throughout this tournament.
He has called upon Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante to play in the midfield three when the match calls for conservatism and left him on the substitutes’ bench when in search of all-out attack.
In the knockout stages, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi sat in the midfield but neither provides the discipline of Kante. After Antoine Griezmann prodded in France’s second against Germany, Kante was sent on to defend the lead.
Deschamps must decide which approach to go with in the final.
Griezmann and Ronaldo Antoine Griezmann, left, and Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2016. The duo have been the stars of the tournament for France and Portugal, respectively. BERTRAND LANGLOIS,FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty

Cristiano’s Ronaldo — the very best?

His galactico status will be cemented in footballing history, so he says anyway.
But, on Sunday night, Ronaldo will have the chance to put himself in a position comparable to Diego Maradona’s performance with Argentina at the World Cup in 1986.
Without Ronaldo, Portugal wouldn’t have made it to the knock-out stages. Without Ronaldo, Portugal wouldn’t have eased past Wales in the semi-final. Without Ronaldo, Portugal would not be on the verge of history.
A prolific winner, the Real Madrid forward has always fallen just short with Portugal. On Sunday, he can change that.

The nearly men

Such a talented generation but Portugal has never quite managed to get over the line.
Ronaldo, Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho, Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe provide a core of players capable of winning a major tournament. But they’ve always fallen short.
Beaten as host nation in 2004, knocked out at the semifinal of the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012, it has been a generation of pain.
The defeat to Greece in Lisbon was Ronaldo’s first tournament as an 18-year-old. Now 31, he will be desperate to right the wrong of 2004.

Space for Dimitri Payet?

Possibly not, judging by his performance against Germany. The West Ham man brought the tournament to life in the group stages with goals against Romania and Albania, but the juice has run out.
Griezmann has assumed the star man role in Deschamps’ team with Payet almost absent against the Germans.
With Deschamps debating how to work his midfield, Payet may find himself watching from the substitutes’ bench as his country contends for the title.