Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Portugal 0-0 France (France win 5-3 on pens): What Were The Key Talking Points As Les Bleus Edge Their Way To A Semi-Final Spot?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, European Championships 6 Jul 2024

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In what was a heavyweight showdown from Hamburg on Friday night, France booked their EURO 24 semi-final ticket as they secured a nail-biting penalties victory against Portugal.

Two superstar squads that have struggled to find much of a clinical edge over in Germany this summer, chances came at a premium and it almost appeared inevitable that Friday’s battle would be heading to spot kicks.

AC Milan defender Theo Hernandez scored the winning penalty after substitute and former Chelsea loanee Joao Felix hit the outside of the post with his effort, the only miss between both camps.

Looking to get their hands on a first European crown since 2000 this summer, Didier Deschamps’ men will meet Spain on Tuesday night for what looks set to be an iconic semi-final battle in Munich.

As for Portugal, with attacking icon and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo already stating that this will be his final European campaign, the Navigators will take some time to dust themselves down.

Despite making a real qualifying statement last year, the 2016 champions limped their way out of this summer’s tournament and were visibly left heartbroken here.

In what was an anxious affair from Hamburg on Friday night, we have taken a look at the key talking points.

Les Bleus book their semi-final spot

Suffering World Cup heartbreak out in Qatar 18 months ago as they eventually lost their world crown to South American icons Argentina, France were always seeking a major tournament response this summer.

Although the European icons might have only mustered a pair of victories from any of their three Group D appearances last month as they had to settle for a second-place finish behind Austria, Les Bleus are still regarded as a standout contender over the next week.

Booking their spot to Hamburg thanks to a 1-0 win against fellow European giants Belgium, Deschamps’ men have continued on their EURO 24 adventure despite failing to find much of a clinical edge.

Looking to get their hands on a first European crown since their success on home soil way back in 2000, France will now have their sights firmly set on what will be another heavyweight challenge when they travel to Munich on Tuesday night.

Already overcoming both Belgium and Portugal over the past week, Les Bleus will now meet a high-flying Spain for what promises to be another heavyweight EURO 24 showdown from the Allianz Arena.

Questions will be asked of Martinez

Making a major EURO 24 qualifying statement last year as they won all of their Group J appearances by an aggregate score of 36-3, Portugal opened this summer’s European Championships pencilled in as a potential dark horse contender.

However, although Roberto Martinez’s men might have opened their European adventure with back-to-back victories against the Czech Republic and Turkey, the Navigators have drastically struggled to find any kind of fluidity over the past week.

Only just avoiding what would have been an infamous European collapse earlier in the week as they clawed past Slovenia thanks to a nail-biting penalties victory, Portugal couldn’t drag themselves over the finishing line here.

Signing off their Group F campaign with an infamous 2-0 defeat at the hands of major tournament debutants Georgia on June 26th, the 2016 champions also failed to muster a single strike in any of their final three appearances this summer.

Although the former Belgium boss and his superstar squad might have always been bracing themselves for a stern examination when they arrived in Hamburg, there could be some fingers pointed in Martinez’s direction.

France’s superstar attack still misfiring

Although France might have booked their semi-final spot after overcoming both Belgium and Portugal, it is no secret that this summer’s title contenders are still desperately seeking some kind of clinical edge in the final third.

Signing off their pre-tournament preparations with a 0-0 stalemate against Canada in Paris on June 9th, Deschamps’ superstar squad have largely flattered to deceive in the final third.

In fact, on what has quickly become an infamous run, the former world champions have remarkably failed to notch a single goal from open play during any of their five EURO 24 appearances so far this summer.

However, although Deschamps might have come under some increasing scrutiny for his pragmatic approach, the Blues still hold a fearsome reputation for their defensive steel.

Aside from signing off their Group D campaign with a 1-1 stalemate against Poland on June 25th, that is the only goal that France have conceded in any of their previous seven appearances across all competitions.

Match Report

Portugal: Costa, Cancelo, Pepe, Dias, Mendes, Vitinha, Palhinha, Fernandes, Silva, Leao, Ronaldo

Subs: Neves, Conceicao, Seemed, Nunes, Felix

France: Maignan, Kounde, Upamecano, Saliba, Hernandez, Tchouameni, Kante, Camavinga, Griezmann, Kolo Muani, Mbappe

Subs: Dembele, Thuram, Barcola, Fofana

Goals: N/A

Yellow Cards: Portugal: Palhinha – France: Saliba

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Michael Oliver

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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