Saturday, December 16, 2017

Prediction: Portugal vs France

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: bet365

Having finally recorded a win in regular time, inspired by their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal will be hoping to produce another strong performance and win their first ever European Championship title. However, it is hosts France that have got to be considered favourites in the Stade de France clash after defeating World Cup holders Germany in the semis.

Portugal

Portugal can consider themselves quite fortunate to have reached their second final at a major international competition, seeing that they have ridden their luck from the very start and never really produced a showing worthy of potential European champions. After failing to win a single game in what was one of the easiest groups at the tournament finals, the Selecao were outplayed by both Poland and Croatia, but they somehow managed to reach the semis. It was now Wales’ turn to outclass Portugal as the Dragons had the upper hand in the first period, only for Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to finally produce a moment of brilliance, rising high above James Chester to put his side in front. He then set up Nani for the second goal of the game, which proved enough for a place in the final, but it goes without saying that the Selecao will have to show a considerable improvement if they want to match in-form France at Saint Denis. Portugal have largely struggled in the build up play at the Euro 2016, with 18-year-old Renato Sanches the only one stepping up to the plate and getting the ball to makeshift forwards Ronaldo and Nani has proved to be a virtually impossible task so far. And with Laurent Koscielny and Samuel Umtiti at the top of their game at the moment, their struggles up front look set to continue.

Team News

Fernando Santos will have William Carvalho back from suspension and he is expected to replace Danilo Pereira in the starting line-up.

Key defender Pepe remains doubtful through a thigh problem, with Bruno Alves ready ti deputise if the Real Madrid star fails to recover in time.

France

Even before the tournament started, we believed that France would lift the third major trophy on home soil, and while we are happy to have been proved right, Les Bleus’ performances at the finals did leave something to be desired. Didier Deschamps’ tactical dilemmas coupled with increased pressure prevented France from showing all they’ve got, but the outstanding individual quality of players like Griezmann, Pogba, Payet and Giroud proved enough to get them out of trouble. The boss himself has made quite a few mistakes so far, and his decision not to attack severely weakened Germany almost backfired as Die Mannschaft were by far the better team in the semis before Bastian Schweinsteiger’s careless handball changed the course of the game. Nevertheless, the 2-0 triumph over the World Cup holders must have taken some pressure off the players’ shoulders ahead of the game of their lives, and with struggling Portugal on the other side, we just cannot see France falling at the final hurdle. With Antoine Griezmann unplayable in the middle and combining really well with Olivier Giroud up front, Les Bleus have got an excellent chance to lift the Euro 2016 trophy, especially if one Dimitri Payet overcomes the under-par showing against Germany and repeats one of his previous performances.

Team News

After N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami served their bans, DIdier Deschamps has no selection worries whatsoever ahead of the Portugal game.

The impressive Samuel Umtiti should again get the nod over Adil Rami, while N’Golo Kante may come in for Moussa Sissoko.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Portugal have never beaten France (D2 L4)
  • Les Bleus won last four matches vs Selecao
  • Only one team have scored in three of their last four meetings
  • Antoine Griezmann has scored 6 goals at Euro 2016
  • France scored two or more foals in five of six matches at tournament finals

Conclusion

Portugal did not deserve to make it to the last eight, let alone be in a position to fight for the coveted trophy and we expect all their weaknesses to be exposed at Stade de France. Les Bleus, on the other hand, have done pretty well most of the time and they’ve got too much quality in the side not to get the job done.

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: bet365

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