Portugal vs France – Context:
Portugal would have hoped to go into their final group game knowing the result would have little bearing on their chances of progression. Yet the reality is that now a draw is required to get them through.
However, the current world champions are in their way and happen to be the side they stopped from winning their home Euro 2016 tournament 5 years prior. A France side wanting revenge and unlikely to go easy despite already being through.
France can confirm top of the group status with a victory and may want to avoid second spot as it could set up a match with other tournament ‘heavyweights’ England.
Portugal vs France – Head-to-head:
France have the advantage heavily stacked in their favour regarding history. 27 times the two nations have met, Les Bleus have come out on top 19 times. Portugal sport just 6 wins from the clashes with there being just two draws.
The last time the pair met was in the Nations League in 2020. After a 0-0 in Paris, Didier Deschamps’ side travelled to Portugal and a sole N’Golo Kante goal gave France all 3 points.
Prior to this was the Euro 2016 final in which Cristiano Ronaldo famously got injured early on and an extra time Eder goal sealed the unlikely win.
Before this, France won the last 10 encounters dating all the way back to 1978. The odds may be against Portugal but this hasn’t stopped them in the past.
Portugal vs France – Key battles:
Jules Koundé is reported to replace Benjamin Pavard on France’s right. A position he has not played and Portugal’s Diogo Jota could look to take advantage of the Sevilla player’s inexperience in the role.
Ronaldo will be looking to unsettle the solid pair of Presnel Kimpembe and Raphael Varane. The Juve forward has encouraged his teammates to get balls into the box and Raphael Guerreiro and Nelson Semedo will be attacking the flanks.
Portugal won the 2016 tournament thanks to their solid defence, however Ruben Dias has looked a little out of sorts compared to the player of the season tag given to the Manchester City man during his title winning Premier League year.
Knowing that only a draw is needed to go through, Fernando Santos will hope Dias and Pepe can keep the team secure at the back but Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe will be doing all they can to break them down.
Portugal vs France – Subplots:
An interesting narrative in the midfield has been hidden beneath the importance of the picture. In 2016 Bayern Munich acquired the services of the highly rated central midfielder Renato Sanches. Despite the hype, Sanches could not quite earn his way into the team and was eventually sent out on loan to Swansea City where he failed again to impress.
Meanwhile in the same year Bayern brought in Corentin Tolisso from Lyon. The Frenchman achieved what Sanches could not and effectively took his place in the squad. Eventually in 2019 Sanches left for Lille. Winning the title last season, Sanches re-established himself as one of Europe’s most appreciated prospects.
Manchester United teammates Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba are arguably the club’s most integral performers and the opportunity to see them play one another with such high stakes on the line could spark a brilliant battle.
Portugal vs France – Predicted line-ups:
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Semedo, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro, Danilo, Renato Sanches, Fernandes, Silva, Jota, Ronaldo
France: Lloris, Koundé, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez, Kante, Pogba, Tolisso, Griezmann, Benzema, Mbappe
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