Portugal. There are two things that come to mind when you think of this side: the first is their star man Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest footballers to grace the modern game; the second comes in the form of a question: how on Earth did they make it this far? This is a side who’ve struggled to look particularly good in any of their matches so far. In fact, they’ve only won two of them (not including their penalty shootout success against Poland): a 1-0 extra-time victory against Croatia in a dire Round of 16 match that saw no shots on target during the usual 90 minutes of play, and their 2-0 win against Wales in the semi-final. Some may see the latter as a sign of resurgence – the awakening that Portugal needed to plough on and leave France in victorious fashion – yet even that didn’t show them at their most convincing, and Wales probably would have played much better if their star midfielder Aaron Ramsey wasn’t suspended. Still, this Portuguese side, whilst not winning a great deal of matches, have been incredibly hard to beat – to the point that nobody yet has been able to do it. And when you boast Ronaldo, Nani and others – you’re a team that can indeed win matches. Their play hasn’t been pretty, they haven’t shown anywhere near the class that some others have, yet this team have made their way to the Stade de France and are now just 90 minutes (or 120, if this goes like 5 of their last 6 matches) away from potentially lifting the trophy.
France, meanwhile, come into this game having won every match bar one. Before the semi-finals, I mentioned that France were yet to seriously prove themselves: their run to that point had been primarily comprised of weaker opposition, and they hadn’t clearly dominated it. Yet their victory against Germany marks a clear change in that regard, proving that this is a French team that is capable of competing at the very highest of stages, and indeed they have earned the opportunity to do just that. They’ll look to two of their stars for some magic in this tournament, and they come in the shape of Dmitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann will be looking to add to his tally for this Euros, having already all but secured the Golden Boot. With the exception of their draw with Switzerland, this French side have scored more than once in every match to date, and we can expect to see more of this goalscoring in Saint-Denis. Buoyed by what’s set to be a passionate home crowd, this French side would pose a formidable opponent for almost any opposition.
And so with just these last two sides remaining, we finally ask what the result will be. Portugal’s sleepy display in this tournament will surely have to end for them to have any real hope of lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy. France, meanwhile, have proven to be an incredible force at home, and they’ll be vying for glory in their own national stadium. Will that be enough for France, or will Portugal, lead by superstar Ronaldo who is likely playing in his last ever European Championship, silence the supporters at the Stade de France? It’s hard to seriously see past France at this stage, but funnier things have happened in football.
Portugal v France – UEFA Euro 2016 Final
Sunday 10th June, 20:00 BST
Stade de France, Saint-Denis, Île-de-France
BBC1 & ITV
Owain’s Prediction: France 3-1 Portugal