It all comes down to this! Will hosts France justify pre tournament favouritism to continue their fine form on home soil or will the Portuguese spoil the party and re-write the wrong from 2004?
On paper it’s got the makings of an interesting match with both managers have plenty to mull over coming into the showpiece event.
N’Golo Kante didn’t have to start against Germany but moments after coming off the bench the Leicester midfielder was cautioned winning the 7/2 shout advised. We come into the Final in good shape with a profit of +10.87.
France v Portugal
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Mark Clattenburg, (ENG)
Route to the Final
|Group Stage||2-1 v Romania||1-1 v Iceland (D)|
|Group Stage||2-0 v Albania||0-0 v Austria (D)|
|Group Stage||0-0 v Switzerland (D)||3-3 v Hungary (D)|
|Round Of 16||2-1 v Republic of Ireland||1-0 (AET) v Croatia|
|Quarter Final||5-2 v Iceland||1-1 (5-3 pens) v Poland|
|Semi Final||2-0 v Germany||2-0 v Wales|
Preview & Team News
France are unbeaten in 18 straight major tournament homes games, which includes the 1998 World Cup and 1984 European Championships that saw Les Blues lifting the trophy.
Add to that their record against tonight’s opponents Portugal where the French have won ten straight meetings.
So far it’s been a tournament where things have fallen into place for the host nation. They did deserve their victory over Germany but were rather fortuitous to be leading at half time through a dubious penalty award.
Les Blues have got out of jail in certain games. Think back to the opener where Dimitri Payet smashed in a late winner, which was followed by two 90th minute goals to see of Albania then the come from behind victory over Republic of Ireland in the Round of 16.
I say get out of jail but that is the quality they possess in this team. Hugo Lloris has made some fine saves when called into action and then you have the likes of Paul Pogba steering the ship in midfield allowing the likes of Payet, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud to do the goal scoring and threatening.
Didier Deschamps will have to make a big decision at centre back for this one. Does he stick with the inexperienced Samuel Umtiti, who was immense against Germany, or bring Adil Rami into the fray?
For me I think he’ll have to stick with Umtiti, who moves to Barcelona next season. He hasn’t put a foot round since stepping in to fill the void and he does look a player brimming with talent.
Then Deschamps has the formation question to answer. The more fluid 4-2-3-1, which sees Griezmann able to play closer to Giroud, which worked against Germany and other times they’ve switched to it but that, could see them being overrun in midfield. He could revert back to the 4-3-3 and bring Kante in to the starting XI to put in a shift and to offer more protection to the back four. Kante’s presence is one that could help to nullify Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal have grown into the tournament and for me, haven’t really been given too many tests at the back. Tonight is the night for it to be called into question and despite the return of Pepe they’ll have their work cut out to quiet the home fans.
Fernando Santos has spoken about changing the history of Portuguese football by trying to erase the 2004 Final memories when they lost to minnows Greece and you can see it happening if they continue to look as comfortable as they have done in previous matches.
Against Wales they were rarely threatened and when the chances fell their way in the second half they were clinical and put the game beyond doubt. That’s how they’ve got here and despite it not necessarily being pretty, it has been very effective.
35th – This is Portugal’s 35th EURO Finals match – the most of all the nations
but they are still yet to get their hands on the silverware.
As mentioned above they look set to make one change from their semi final win over Wales with Pepe recovering from injury to replace Bruno Alves. Somewhat surprisingly the Real Madrid ‘hardman’ has only seen one yellow card at the tournament.
Looking back on the previous eight Finals dating back to France’s success on home soil in 1984 then these are the trends for goals:
- 7 of 8 have seen Under 2.5 goals;
- 14 goals scored in the 8 Finals; an average of 1.75 per match;
- 11 of the 14 goals scored have come in the Second Half;
- Just two matches have seen both teams scoring.
Another way in will be the cards market and these are the historical trends with the previous eight Finals:
- 34 yellow cards & one red card (France’s Yvon Le Roux) shown since 1984; an average of 4.25 yellow cards per Final;
- The 34 yellow cards have been split 18 in the first half & 16 in the second half.
France are the leading scorers at the tournament with 13 goals from 36 shots on target. That is helped by having top scorer Griezmann in their ranks, who has netted six times, and is going close to Michel Platini’s record of nine.
Portugal have scored eight goals from the same amount of shots on frame. Ronaldo & Nani have three goals each and it’ll be left to them to chase Griezmann at the top of the scoring charts.
This tournament has seen 107 goals at an average of 2.14 per game and one every 43 minutes of play. The highest scoring time periods have been from 31 minutes until half time when 20 goals have been scored but it is beaten by the time period of 46-60, which has seen 21 goals.
Between then these sides have taken 84 corners, 45-39 in Portugal’s favour. Selecao average 7.5 per match; Les Blues’ is 6.5, so you can expect to see the corner stats hitting double figures.
From a disciplinary aspect neither of these have tried the referees patience too much. Portugal have only received seven cautions whereas France have nine – three of which have gone to Kante.
Mark Clattenburg takes charge of his third final this year. He showed nine yellows and a red card in the FA Cup Final, then he followed that up with eight during Real Madrid’s Champions League win over city rivals Atletico.
At this tournament his card trends have been 5,4,4. Therefore the initial thoughts are to look at between 4-6 match cards, which is 10/11 with William Hill.
Before the tournament started I ruled out France with concerns about their team play and usual antics in the build up. However nothing has really gone wrong for them off the pitch and the fact they are boosted by their home crowd you have to favour their chances.
Considering the trends of recent European Championship Finals then Under 2.5 goals looks the way forward. Add that to the head to head record at major tournaments, which reads (results in 90 mins): 1-0 France (2006 WC), 1-1 (2000 EC) and 1-1 (1984 EC). But the price of 1/2 or 4/9 available is rather skinny.
We know that the majority of France’s goals have come after the interval and Santos’ men have only found the net thrice in the first period. With a tight first half expected the 11/8 for 0-0 at half time available with Paddy Power does seem fair.
One of the ways in I’m looking at is on a player to see a card. William Carvalho is a combative defensive midfielder, who is employed to protect the central defence and that’s what he does. In the four matches he has feature he has seen two yellows from seven fouls committed, which does suggest he’s a cynical player.
With Clattenburg in charge then the majority of cards will be in the second half looking at his make up. If you look at historical finals then the first halves average 2.25 cards, so 2-3 First Half Cards at 11/8 could be worth a small play.
Les Blues have scored two or more goals in all but one match at this tournament. The only team to really get at Portugal’s defence were Hungary and they had plenty of joy – scoring three goals. I do like the look of the host nation scoring at least twice in the capital.
William Carvalho to be shown a card – 10/3 (Betfair)
France to score 2+ goals – 8/5