This Sunday July 10th, 2016 is the UEFA Euro Cup final. Host nation, France, will square off against Portugal for the title of best in Europe. Below is everything you need to know about both teams as we get ready for an epic showdown. So get your jersey, your red wine, your scarf and your other bottle of red wine because this is a crash course on the Euro Cup finals. But before we get to the head-to-head matchup, let’s take a quick look at how each squad advanced to the finals.
France cruised through the group stages with two wins and a draw. Then they dismantled Iceland 5-2 with goals coming from Giroud (twice), Pogba, Payet and Griezmann. But was set to face Germany in the semi-finals, a team they haven’t beaten in a major tournament since 1958. But the game was being played in Marseille and the French are undefeated playing at home in big tournaments.
Les Bleus beat the German team 2-0 off the foot of French superstar, Antoine Griezmann. First, Griezmann scored on a penalty kick in extra time right before the break. This was one of the lone bright spots for France as Germany dominated possession the whole first half. But a handball in the box set up the PK and Antoine did the rest. Not resting on their laurels, France pushed in the second and Griezmann found the back of the net again, directing a rebound for a clever goal that iced the match.
Portugal struggled in the group stage and tied all three of their matches. Many, including futbol-god, Cristiano Ronaldo, didn’t seem to think they had much of a chance moving forward. But a gutsy 1-0 win over Croatia sent the Portuguese to the semis where they would face a solid Polish team, lead by goal scoring machine, Robert Lewandowski.
Lewandowski opened the game with a goal in the second minute. The second fastest goal in Euro history. It seemed that the Pols were on the march. But in classic form, Portugal tied it up with a goal from Renato Sanches. In the closing minutes, Ronaldo had a perfect chance to end it but kicked it right to the keeper. Both sides battled to the 90th minute and into extra time. Still tied, the game went to penalties where they won 5-3.
How they stack up
Forwards: Griezmann and Ronaldo both wear number 7 and are both team’s key to winning. One of these guys can single-handedly change the outcome. Griezmann has more goals in Euro Cup so far but I begrudgingly award Advantage Portugal.
Defense: France’s backline looked solid all tournament. The likes of Patrice Evra, Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny help keep shape and limit chances. The same cannot always be said by the Portuguese side. Advantage France.
Best Hair: Both Giroud and Greizmann rock the hipster shaved sides do with the pride of a bad club DJ but once again Cristiano swoops in with his perfect features to steal the category. Too bad this isn’t “best wines,” cause France owns that. Advantage Portugal.
Midfielders: Portugal has tried a few starting lineups, with most of the shakeups being in the midfield. João Mário has started every game with different combos of Danilo, Andre Gomes, and João Moutinho. While France’s Blaise Matuidi, Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba continue to build chemistry in their six starts. Advantage France.
Goalkeeping: France’s Hugo Lloris vs. Portugal’s Rui Patrício. Lloris has given up 1 fewer goal through six games of Euro Cup and played great against Germany. Patrício has had less defensive help so maybe the stats aren’t telling. He did come up big in the PK’s versus Poland. Let’s call this one a Tie.
France has the deeper team and more talent overall but CR7 makes his own luck. If the French defense can stay strong like they did against Germany then it should be a party at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday. France 3 – Portugal 1.
Allez Les Bleus!