Portugal v France – Stade de France at 20:00 live on BBC One
Hosts France will end Euro 2016 where they started it this Sunday, at the Stade de France in the Final against Portugal. It was at the same stadium Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup in 1998 as a player and will be hoping to lift the European Championship trophy as a manager.
Portugal will be aiming to go one better than they did in 2004 when they were defeated by underdogs Greece in their only other European Championship final. This time, it’s the Portuguese who come into the final as the underdogs, 4.62 to win in 90 minutes and 2.90 to be crowned champions.
It’s been a largely defensive tournament, which is down to the new expanded format but there hasn’t been a shortage of chances and drama. Iceland and Wales’ runs to the quarters and semi’s respectfully has given the competition some excitement, but other than that, it’s been a mostly forgettable tournament.
France were pre-tournament favourites, but despite not lighting up their group with narrow, laboured wins over Romania and Albania, as well as a goalless draw against Switzerland, they finished top. Another tight 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in the last 16 led them to a quarter final against Iceland where they finally showed their attacking talent, winning 5-2.
Momentum has been building for Les Bleus, but they were lucky to come out of Thursday’s semi final against World Champions Germany as winners. They were very flat in midfield, often overrun by the Germans something they will need to remedy against Portugal, who have a more dangerous frontman than Germany in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Their defence was a worry coming into the tournament, which would have put some people off backing them outright, but they have kept clean sheets in 3 of their 6 matches. They haven’t come up against much though, and Sunday’s test should be tougher even though Portugal haven’t been firing on all cylinders.
N’Golo Kante may well be brought back into side to sit in front of the back 4 to strengthen up their defence, but will Deschamps change a winning side and in doing so may have to play their star man, and tournament top scorer, Antoine Griezmann out of his best position. Griezmann now has 6 tournament goals after his brace against Germany and if Portugal don’t contain him, he could be the difference.
You could say Portugal have been lucky to get to the final, finishing as one of the best 3rd placed finishers in the group stages without winning a game. They were fortunate with the draw despite finishing 3rd, avoiding Italy, Germany and France (until now), but still were without a win after the last 16 and quarter finals.
A Selecção did finally register a win against Wales in the semi final though, but it was far from a good performance and took a towering Ronaldo header and a fortunate deflected shot, turned in by Nani, to seal the win, in a mediocre display.
Renato Sanches looked very bright against Wales and could expose France’s weaknesses in midfield without Kante, if he doesn’t start. However, I think Portugal’s best way of getting past the back four of France will be down the flanks.
Like any final, this one is going to be tight and a moment of brilliance could nick this for either side. Both nations have plenty of individual quality and it may be individual quality which wins this as both teams have been struggling with cohesion.
Under 2 goals is priced up at 1.94, so a low scoring match is expected. It’s a tough match to call but I think France edge this and look good value to do so in 90 minutes at 2.06.
The hosts have won 16 of their last 18 matches on home soil in a major competition, drawing the other two and have won their last 10 matches against Portugal.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: France -0.5 at 2.06
Prices correct at time of writing.
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