The two sides have history and it is Fernando Santos’ men who will be looking to enact revenge for semi-final defeats in both the 1984 and 2000 European Championships.
The 1984 European Championship, the 1998 World Cup and now maybe the 2016 European Championship. France is closing in on a third straight major tournament win on home soil.
Portugal meanwhile may have preferred to face Germany, given their record against France because they have not beaten Les Blues in 10 games, including the two semifinals.
Portugal knocked out tournament upstarts Wales on their way to the final in the French capital where Cristiano Ronaldo lived up to his billing with a towering header to put his side ahead on 55 minutes. Three minutes later, the Real Madrid forward had a shot diverted into the net by strike partner Nani who deflected the ball past a wrong-footed Wayne Hennessy in the Welsh goal.
Portugal have not been the prettiest team to watch at the tournament so far but their organization and tactical flexibility has still been something to marvel at.
Firstly, the Atletico Madrid forward scored from the penalty spot right on half-time when Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger was penalized for handball by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli. Griezmann then settled the pulsating semi-final with 18 minutes left when he turned in from close range after keeper Manuel Neuer fluffed Paul Pogba’s cross. France had been under the cosh for majority of the game but held out for a historic victory..
Portugal coach Fernando Santos was without the suspended William Carvalho against Wales and has a selection dilemma on his hands. To keep Danilo, who is more consistent and was excellent in the semifinal, or restore the Sporting youngster.
He has also reworked his center back pairing, with Pepe injured and Bruno Alves joining the faultless Jose Fonte. Pepe is likely to return if he recovers in time, but it’s notable that Ricardo Carvalho, 38, who started Portugal’s first game, has slipped out of the reckoning.
Portugal are likely to line up in the 4-4-2 diamond which has severed them so well in the knockouts. Ronaldo and Nani appear set to lead the line while Joao Mario, and Adrien Silva are almost certain to start.
18-year-old Renato Sanches’ form in his last two starts should earn him a place in the final, however the teenager might be spared the tense occasion in place of the experienced Joao Moutinho. Raphael Guerreiro and Cedric Soares should start at full-back.
Portugal last reached the final of a major tournament in Euro 2004 and Ronaldo was left crying on the pitch as his side lost 1-0 to Greece on home soil.
“The team did a marvelous job to reach the final,” Ronaldo said. “It’s what we have dreamt of since the beginning.”
“We knew it would be a long road and we’re still in the tournament. I hope on Sunday you’ll see me crying with joy. I always said I wanted to win something with Portugal. We’re closer to doing it and I believe that we’ll win.
Predicted Line Up: Rui Patrcio; Guerreiro, Soares, Pepe, Fonte; W. Carvalho, Joao Mario, Renato Sanches, Adrien Silva; Ronaldo, Nani.
The first decision for coach Didier Deschamps is whether to recall Adil Rami to the back four despite the impressive performance of Barcelona signing of Samuel Umtiti against Germany.
Secondly, Leicester City champion N’Golo Kante was dropped to the bench in the semi-final against Germany in place of Moussa Sissoko as part of a tactical shift. The performance against Germany means that the line-up is likely to stay the same.
Antoine Griemann became the tournament’s leading scorer with a brace against Germany and is set to play a crucial role in the final, as does unpopular target man Olivier Giroud.
Dimitri Payet could see his place in the starting XI under threat after putting in a poor performance versus Germany and being hauled off with 20 minutes left. The option for Deschamps in dropping the West Ham winger is to move Sissoko to the wing and reinstate Kante to central midfield.
France coach Deschamps expects home advantage to play a significant part in the final, and is already thinking about how best to prepare for the encounter.
“We have three days before the final, it’s very short so we have to savor this victory,” he said. “It’s an important step forward but the most important step is Sunday.”
“We’re going to do everything in our power to go in to Sunday’s game in the best possible condition. We had to suffer but never gave up and that’s great for me. This is a great story, the players wrote history by knocking out Germany.”
Predicted Line Up: Lloris; Sagna, Evra, Umtiti, Koscielny; Matuidi, Pogba, Sissoko; Payet, Griezmann, Giroud.
Head To Head
The French have a rather envious record over Portugal having won 18 of the side’s 24 meetings. Portugal have won five while only once have the spoils been shared, that was in 1-1 friendly draw back in 1928.
In the three meetings between the two nations at major tournaments Les Blues have won each of them. In the only other meeting at a European Championship other than the 1984 semi, France defeated Humberto Coelho’s side in the 2000 semi-final. That game ended in controversy as Zinedine Zidane converted a contentious 117th minute golden goal penalty.
Raymond Domenech’s France also sent the Portuguese players home from the 2006 World Cup when another Zinedine Zidane penalty separated the sides. The last time the countries met it was in September 2015 during a friendly when Mathieu Valbuena scored an 85th minute winner in Lisbon.
How They Got To The Final
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one and set up another as Portugal ended Wales’ remarkable run at Euro 2016 with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night to reach the final.
A cagey game in Lyon burst into life when Ronaldo opened the scoring with a towering header before his sliced shot from 25 yards minutes later was deflected home by Nani to double Portugal’s advantage. Portugal saw out the reminder of the game in a calm fashion.
After drawing all three of their group games, Fernando Santos’ men squeezed past Croatia after extra-time in the last -16 after 117 dismal minutes of football that brought only two shots on goal. Viewers were put out of their misery when Ricardo Quaresma nodded home from a few yards out.
The Besiktas winger was the hero once more in the quarter-final against Poland. He scored the winning penalty in a shootout after the scores were locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Against Poland Fernando Santos’ side did well to claw themselves back into the game after conceding in the second minute to Robert Lewandowski. Moments before half-time however, 19-year-old midfielder Renato Sanches bagged his first goal for the national team in style to level the scores. Throughout the second half and in extra-time the game looked destined for penalties where neither side could assert themselves on the game to take control.
The Portuguese men secured progression to the knockout stage in 3rd place in Group F after an end-to-end six-goal thriller with group winners Hungary. After Fernando Santos’ men had gone behind three times and equalized three time against the Hungarians, it appeared Selecao das Quinas had done enough to set up a last-16 tie with England. As the players made their way off the pitch it emerged Iceland had scored a late winner meaning Portugal had finished 3rd.
Portugal have looked unsure of themselves in Euro 2016 so far. Nani gave his side the lead in their opening game against Iceland only to see it cancelled out in the second half by a far more impressive Iceland. After a 0-0 draw with Austria it has begun to look like that Cristiano Ronaldo is appearing in his own side show, not a very good one at that.
First, Portugal’s star man criticized Icelandic celebrations after the 1-1 draw and was then left red faced when he missed a penalty during the 0-0 stalemate with Austria in the game following. To add to growing annoyance, in the same game he also had a goal ruled out for off side. Ronaldo also made the headlines when in the run-up to the Hungary game he threw a reporters microphone into a lake when pursued for an interview.
Antoine Griezmann scored twice as France beat Germany 2-0 at the Stade Velodrome to set up a Euro 2016 final with Portugal in Paris, on Sunday.
Germany enjoyed almost 70 per cent possession during a frantic first-half in Marseille but it was France who broke the deadlock in injury time at the end of the first period after Patrice Evra’s header was adjudged to have hit the arm of Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Griezmann made no mistake from the spot and the tournament’s leading goalscorer was again celebrating in the 72nd minute after he capitalized on mistakes from Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer to score his sixth goal of the competition to send Didier Deschamps’ side to the final.
In the quarter-finals France showed what a strong team can really do against Iceland. France scored five to bring a brutal end to the Iceland fairytale and there was almost a sense of disbelief around the Stade de France as the host nation walked off with a 4-0 advantage at the break.
Olivier Giroud’s low strike, Paul Pogba’s powerful header from a corner, a Dimitri Payet shot and a deft chip from Antoine Griezmann put the French firmly in control at the end of the first 45. In the second half Giroud added France’s fifth. The goals helped put French players in positions one, two and three for the tournaments golden boot.
Les Blues reached the last-8 with thanks to two goals from Antoine Griezmann against Republic of Ireland. At the Stade de Lyon France were shocked to find themselves behind inside two minutes when Paul Pogba sent Shane Long to the ground for Robbie Brady to convert the penalty kick. However, the French rallied and the Atletico Madrid forward netted twice in quick succession on the hour mark to secure victory.
Excitement has followed the French campaign so far. France booked their place in the last sixteen with a last gasp win against Albania in Marseille. It took them until the 90th minute to break the red and black eagles’ resolve when Antoine Griezmann headed home form an Adel Rami cross. Player of the tournament Dimitri Payet rubbed salt into Albanian wounds with France’s second deep into stoppage time.
It was the second time in Euro 2016 that Didier Deschamps’ men have left the home nation’s fans with their hearts in their mouths. In the tournament’s curtain raiser versus Romania they waited until the 90th minute to take a 2-1 lead, Payet was the scorer.
In their final group game a 0-0 with Switzerland gave the host nation a day off from the heart attack inducing late flurries that have characterized their tournament. Only the odd Pogba thunderbolt went close for Didier Deschamps’ team, still, a draw was enough to secure top spot in Group A.