Preview: France vs Portugal- In this rematch of EURO 2016 final, who will emerge victorious and book their tickets for the knockouts?
An all action-packed fixture is on our heads as France and Portugal will lock horns on Thursday in the final round of the Euro 2020 group stages in Budapest. The contest pits the World champions against the defending Euro champions and promises to be a thrilling one as it will have a major say in how Group F plays out.
France got their Euro 2020 campaign off to a roaring start with a 1-0 win over Germany. But in the following round, a humbling draw against Hungary has made things complicated for Les Bleus. Despite leading Group F, they might finish in any of the group’s four positions depending on the outcome of the last round of matches. They might have defeated a strong German squad, but Les Bleus are yet to announce themselves as the powerhouse they are and will be hoping to do so against Portugal.
While most teams want complexity, France requires simplicity. Didier Deschamps has realised that his squad just needs the bare minimum since the individuals will ensure that every single process is ultra-effective. The solidity of their backline and the presence of N’Golo Kante means that, while they are intimidated, they are seldom beaten. A plan that relies on their defensive ability and the efforts of their strikers, but one that makes sense given their firepower.
In the case of Portugal, who had the greatest odds, along with France, to win the group, were defeated 4-2 in the second round in a statement win by Germany. Portugal’s seven-game unbeaten streak came to an end, as the defeat dropped them to third place in Group E. Portugal’s 3-0 triumph over Hungary on Matchday 1 seemed promising, but they appeared to be a side with major tactical deficiencies that were eventually exposed by the Germans.
⏹️ Não foi a nossa tarde em Munique. Foco total na última jornada do grupo para conseguir os 'oitavos'! #VamosComTudo
🇵🇹 2-4 🇩🇪 pic.twitter.com/GruUXhGXsZ
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) June 19, 2021
While Fernando Santos’ men are not known for their offensive flair, their ability to absorb anything that comes their way and execute the basic fundamentals of football effectively has led them far in competitions. However, as seen by their thrashing on Saturday, it may not be the case this time. They may not have the most fluid style of play, but they will need to adjust to changing circumstances going forward, starting with France.
Ousmane Dembele is a doubt for this encounter after suffering a hamstring injury in their previous match against Hungary. Dembele hasn’t started the first two matches, meaning Deschamps will be able to field his strongest starting lineup.
France Probable Lineup: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Digne; Kante, Pogba, Rabiot; Griezmann, Mbappe, Benzema
Injury scare for France as substitute Ousmane Dembele was forced off holding his leg https://t.co/vAkwFIhVo0
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) June 19, 2021
For Portugal, Nuno Mendes and Joao Felix will remain sidelined for this fixture as well after both the players sustained training injuries.
Portugal Probable Lineup: Patricio; Semedo, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Pereira, Carvalho, Fernandes; B.Silva, Jota, Ronaldo
Mbappe, at 22, is already established as one of the greatest forwards in the world. On a fundamental level, Mbappé is such a terrifying forward because of his blistering pace and deadly finishing — a combination that will remain extremely valuable no matter how football evolves.
Mbappé is not just freakishly fast on the ground, but he also thinks faster than most defenders. He sees chances before his opponents detect danger and attacks before they can respond. Although he is yet to open his goal-scoring account at the Euros, what better place to do it than in such a crucial match?
We talked about the Prince. It’s time we talk about the undisputed King. Cristiano Ronaldo has evolved drastically during his career and is still evolving at the age of 36. He might have lost his pace (although he is faster than a bunch of other players) but his instincts inside the box have only got sharper. Ronaldo is still the lethal striker we’ve always known and has rightfully lived up to his label of a “Goalscoring Machine” throughout the years.
With three goals and one assist in two Euro 2020 matches, there is no question that Ronaldo has once again placed his nation on his trustworthy shoulders. But now it’s up to his teammates, who are no less talented and among the finest in their positions, to step up and help Portugal get back on track.
Following the latest results, Portugal, Germany, France, and even Hungary are involved in an epic battle in the “Group of Death” of Euro 2020. Individual firepower is at an all-time high heading into Thursday’s match, with both countries boasting two of the tournament’s most talented rosters.
Both sides will be vying for victory, and the game is sure to be a fascinating one.
FootTheBall predicts France 3-1 Portugal.