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France’s top stars underwhelm in Euro 2016 final

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 11 Jul 2016

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France suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Portugal in the Euro 2016 on Sunday night

France suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Portugal in the Euro 2016 on Sunday night

There we have it Portugal are European champions beating hosts France 1-0 with an extra-time wonder goal from former-Swansea man Eder (no, I am not kidding!)

The game was more of an intriguing game of defence versus attack for much of the 90 minutes, but Portugal held on to win somehow, even after losing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo after 25 minutes through injury.

Congratulations to Portugal for their resilient, team spirit and game plan. However in truth France should have had the game well wrapped-up in 90 minutes.

Top stars fail to deliver on the big stage

France’s profligacy let them down in front of goal with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Pierre-Andre Gignac, amongst others, missing very good chances. In the end the stars that France needed to shine just burnt out.

The two biggest disappointments of the night were highly-rated midfielder Paul Pogba and striker Antoine Griezmann. In truth Pogba’s poor performance may have been more down to boss Didier Deschamps use of the Juventus man.

The 23-year-old is being talked about as potentially being the first £100million player this summer, but on last night’s display he was not worth more than £100. The fact that he was playing a deep-lying playmaker role constricted what he does best, which is get forward and cause opposition problems from midfield.

Regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the world, Pogba was not even the best midfielder in his own team last night, as Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko enjoyed a far more impressive display.

We will never know what would have happened had Pogba been played in a more advanced role, but judging on the evidence from the tournament as a whole the midfielder is currently trying too hard to be the star man and it’s affecting his usual game.

Antoine Griezmann has enjoyed a fine tournament and won the Golden Boot by scoring six goals on home soil, but this game was one for the 25-year-old to forget. He had very little space to operate in and when chances came his way he spurned them.

The striker has enhanced his reputation at Euro 2016, but if he ever truly wants to be classed as a top player he needs to start producing in the big games. He has now let two finals slip through his fingers in a couple months, following his penalty miss in the Champions League final for Atletico Madrid.

Didier Deschamps decisions may be questioned

It’s hard to question Didier Deschamps decisions and only in hindsight is it easy to see the flaws. It is understandable that Deschamps named an unchanged team from last time out, as it had been successful.

However, the French boss’ substitutions have to be questioned. Dimitri Payet was having a quiet night and was replaced by Kingsley Coman just before the hour mark. That substitution could have gone either, as Coman looked lively, but Payet can create something out of nothing, which was what was needed to break down a tough Portugal side

The biggest decision I would have questioned was the one to bring off Arsenal star Olivier Giroud and replace him with lumbering Tigres forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, when he had the guile and pace of Manchester United’s Anthony Martial sitting on the bench.

Gignac hit the post from close-range and offered very little else to the team. Deschamps did bring on Martial, but only in stoppage-time after Portugal had taken the lead.

The French boss was very cautious with his decisions considering that Portugal offered little to no attacking threat in normal time. His team had previous played a very quick, attacking style of play in previous games, but the French were rather laboured in their approach in the final.

Players just could not deliver in the end

For all the talk about Portugal being a good team and resilient, goalkeeper Rui Patricio had to make eight saves in the final, which was the most in any Euro final since Peter Schmeichel defied the Germans in Euro ’92.

Portugal were by no means unbeatable, but when it came down to it the French players just could deliver on the big stage. The likes of Payet, Griezmann and Pogba failed to produce when it mattered and Portugal benefitted from it.

Portugal are European champions and it will be in the history books, but critics will be saying that this final was a massive missed opportunity for Les Bleus to win the European title for a third time.

Why did France lose the Euro 2016 final?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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