The tournament is nearly over and new European Champions will be crowned but will it be Portugal or will it be France… Jake Jackman tells you his thoughts…
Sunday 10th July 2016 – 20:00 BST
EURO 2016 FINAL
PORTUGAL v FRANCE
The European Championship final is upon us and as expected France have managed to reach yet another final on home soil. Their opposition this Sunday are Portugal, who many believe have been lucky to get this far, winning just one match in 90 minutes, but their organisation and tireless work rate has made them difficult to break down. This is an intriguing match-up, as France played well against Germany, but they were mainly counter-attacking and they will have to play a different way on Sunday. Portugal are likely to sit back and soak in the France pressure, and break quickly, with energetic midfielders Joao Mario and Renato Sanches key in this approach. The pair will have to cover a lot of ground and carry the ball at speed when it is retrieved.
France had a lot of expectation heading into this tournament, and flattered to deceive until the quarter final. Their performance against Germany was one of the best at the tournament so far, and they fully deserved to go through. They defended well, with Moussa Sissoko and Blaise Matuidi working particularly hard in their own half. Eyebrows were raised when Sissoko was retained over Ngolo Kante, but it was a decision that paid off, as the Newcastle midfielder kept Julian Draxler from making much of an impact. France are peaking in the final third, with some of the creative play from Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet devastating at times. Antoine Griezmann has already scored six goals at this tournament, and the decision to move him inside has been an inspired one. France have grown into the tournament and deserve their favourites tag going into the final.
They will be the underdogs going into the final, but Portugal represent a dangerous opponent to France. For one, they are difficult to break down and full of energy. They will match the French midfield in these areas, and in Renato Sanches, they have a player capable of producing a moment of magic. Their attackers are in great form, with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring six goals between them in this competition. Ronaldo took a while to hit top form, but he was very good against Wales, and if he maintains that against France, he will cause lots of problems. Portugal also offer a threat from set pieces and that could be a factor on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see how the two sides line up. France may opt to remain unchanged, but this could be a mistake. They will have more of the ball on Sunday, as Portugal are likely to sit off and rely on Ronaldo, Sanches and Nani to make something happen. France may be tempted to bring in Kingsley Coman for Sissoko, as the Bayern Munich loanee is a lot more threatening in the final third. Portugal will keep most of the same line up with the only changes likely to be William Carvalho and Pepe coming in for Danilo and Bruno Alves.
In terms of a result, it is difficult to predict, but I think Portugal have gone under the radar, and are actually playing some really effective football. France struggle in games when they’ve been the ones with the majority of possession and Portugal have the players to make them pay on the counter-attack. Portugal to lift the trophy carries some really good odds, and is my tip for this match. I’d also be looking at Cristiano Ronaldo to score in this match, as he has grown into the competition and will be motivated to carry his nation to glory. I expect Portugal to play in a combative style and with the players they have in their side, backing them to get over 2.5 bookings is worth it.
TIP: Cristiano Ronaldo to score anytime (3.25 at PaddyPower)
TIP: Portugal Over 2.5 Bookings (1.83 at Bet365)
TIP: Portugal to lift the trophy (2.90 at PaddyPower)