After one month and 50 games, France and Portugal are the only teams left of the 24 that played across 10 French cities for a tilt at the European title. This evening at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris, France take on Portugal in the Euro 2016 final aiming to win a European Championship on home soil for the second time.
Didier Deschamps’ side have the chance to match the triumph of Euro 1984, when Michel Platini scored a tournament record nine goals on route to lifting the trophy. They face a Portuguese side looking to win their first major tournament, having lost 1-0 to Greece in their only other appearance in a European Championship final, in 2004.
Portugal have lost their last 10 games against France, who in Antoine Griezmann boast the competition’s top scorer with six goals, but midfielder Joao Mario believes they can spring a surprise at the Stade de France.
“France are playing at home but they haven’t shown their spectacular football,” he said at a pre-match press conference. “We know we always lose to them but this will motivate us.
“The French media are sure of the win (for France.) We have lost a final already but this time we can make it. Probability counts for nothing and all the Portuguese bet on us. There is nothing like playing in a competition like this for our country.”
This will be the fourth meeting between Portugal and France in a major tournament. The French have won the previous three, all in semi-finals at Euro 1984, Euro 2000 and World Cup 2006.
Portugal have played the most games (34) in the history of the European Championships without ever winning the tournament.
Before Portugal, the only previous cases of third-placed teams in the group stages reaching the final of a major tournament (World Cup and Euro) was Argentina in the 1990 World Cup and Italy in the same tournament four years later. Neither lifted the trophy.
Portugal are unbeaten in their 13 competitive fixtures under Fernando Santos (winning nine and drawing four). Eight of those nine wins were decided by a single goal.
Portugal have conceded only one goal in their last five knockout games at the European Championships, it was against Poland in this year’s quarter-finals.
This will be France’s fifth major tournament final. They have won three of their previous four (Euro 1984 and 2000, World Cup 1998), losing their most recent (World Cup 2006).
France are unbeaten in their last 18 major tournament games played on home soil, winning 16 and drawing two.
Only Germany and Spain (three) have won more European Championships than France (two).
France are the top scorers at Euro 2016 with 13 goals in six games. They had not netted that many in a major tournament since Euro 2000 (13).
Pepe has been passed fit for this evening’s match after returning to full training. The Real Madrid defender missed last Wednesday’s semi-final win over Wales with a thigh injury and had been considered a doubt ahead of the Paris showpiece against the hosts.
William Carvalho is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing the semi-final through suspension.
France have no fresh injury concerns or suspensions. The host nation named an unchanged team in consecutive games for the first time in their European Championship history in the semi-final, and Deschamps could name the same XI again today.
Ronaldo vs Griezmann
While there are many star players on show today, two are sure to stand out. Cristiano Ronaldo is a three-time World Footballer of the Year and a contender for this year’s award after leading Real Madrid the Champions League title a few weeks before the Euros.
On the French side is Antoine Griezmann, a player who was on the losing side in that final playing for Atletico Madrid but top scorer at this tournament with six goals, with a legitimate claim to be player of the tournament.
Ronaldo has played in more games than any other player at the European Championships (20). None of his three goals and two assists at Euro 2016 have come outside the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Ronaldo has now equalled Platini’s record of nine goals in the European Championships. He has never scored against France (234 minutes of play).
Griezmann has scored/assisted more goals than any other player at Euro 2016 (6 goals, 2 assists). He has the opportunity to become the third French player to finish as sole top scorer at a major tournament after Just Fontaine (World Cup 1958) and Platini (1984).
Meanwhile French manager Didier Deschamps could become the second person to win the European Championships as a player and as a manager after Berti Vogts (unused sub in 1972, winning manager in 1996). Deschamps was the winning captain for France at World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000.