The most high-profile fixture of the Euro 2020 will unfold in the next 48 hours as reigning European Champions Portugal will host the defending World Champions France at the Puskas Arena. This promises a very highly staked fixture for both Nations.
The final fixture of the ‘Group of Death’ will be a recap of the 2016 European Championship Final. Cristiano Ronaldo’s side had the last laugh against France and conquered Europe in Paris. The World Champions became the runners up of Europe that night. This coming Thursday, Deschamp’s men will want to settle the books with Portugal.
History of the Rivalry
France holds a historical advantage over Portugal. Both nations faced each other 27 times in the past. Les Blues won 19 of the 27 matches they contested. Portugal had tasted victory just once in their last 13 meetings with the World Champions which came 5 years down the lane.
The final in 2016 was the most important victory in their history as it helped them win the European Championship. Out of the remaining 12 fixtures, France has had the upper hand on 11 occasions and the other one being an alone draw.
Five key aspects to look forward to
- France has already qualified for the knockout stages of EURO 2020. This gives them an upper hand going into the fixture. Portugal on the other hand, sit 3rd and will be desperate for a win to seal their qualification.
- If Cristiano Ronaldo manages to score a brace past the French defence, then that would create history. The 5 times Ballon d’Or winner is currently sitting with 107 international goals. A couple of goals more will put him in the record books for the most international goals scored, equal with Ali Daei.
- Portuguese great Cristiano Ronaldo has never found the back of the next against their European counterparts France despite playing them the most number of times which includes a game time of 439 minutes in International football.
- The match promises to be a tough test of the midfielders as well. Both teams like to keep possession of the ball and going up against one another will be a test of character for both parties.
- Portugal scored 5 times in two matches in EURO 2020, while France conceded just once. The battle between Portugal’s attack and French defence will be one to watch out for!
Key battles to watchout for:
- Bruno Fernandes vs Paul Pogba
The battle between two club teammates who command things in the middle of the park for their respective national teams will be the most fascinating one to look out for. The Portuguese lynchpin has had a good start to life at the ongoing European Championship, thanks to his all-around performance for Portugal. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba too unleashed his true potential like he always does for the Les Blues. He has already dropped two great shifts for France in their previous outings.
- Kylian Mbappe vs Ruben Dias
The French wonderkind hasn’t really turned up the ante for his counterparts like he always does. But he has shown flashes of what he is all about in the ties against Germany and Hungary. His ability to destroy backlines coupled with his speed and precision is what stands out every single time he’s on the pitch.
But, to keep a check on him Portugal has Ruben Dias who came into the Euros after an extraordinary season with Manchester City. Dias is capable of stopping a world class attack despite his numbers at the Euros suggest something else.
France is clear favourites going into this blockbuster contest because they have the looked the best side in the group of death. Portugal started their campaign in style but was given a reality check by Germany. The World Champions are guaranteed a RO16 spot irrespective of all the reaming fixtures of their group. But things are not so easy for Portugal as they find themselves in the 3rd spot behind Germany. Portugal will need to go for a win because a draw will bring goal difference and other statistics into action.