STAR PREVIEW Weds: Portugal v France

Group F concludes with one more cracker as Portugal and France face off at the Puskas Arena in Hungary with both sides still in with a shout of heading into the last-16 as group winners.

Portugal dominated Hungary in their opening match and, although it took until the 84th minute to break the deadlock, ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against Marco Rossi’s men.

However, they were dealt a harsh lesson by Germany in their second game. Despite taking an early lead through Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos’ side simply couldn’t cope with the pace and movement of Germany’s attack and Joachim Low’s side were very convincing in a 4-2 win.

However, one man who has shone, somewhat unexpectedly, for Portugal is Renato Sanches who British football fans may remember from his fairly disastrous loan spell at Swansea City in the 2017-18 season. The box-to-box midfielder has come off the bench in the last two games and really impressed with his pace, movement and energy, making him likely to start tonight for Portugal.

Ronaldo, of course, is also still the main man and, although is evidently not quite at the peak of his powers at 36-years-of-age, is absolutely still capable of causing France serious problems if they’re not careful.

Portugal v France
UEFA EURO 2020 Group F
20:00 BBC One HD / BBC iPlayer

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
NOV 2020 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Portugal 0-1 France
OCT 2020 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE France 0-0 Portugal
JUL 2016 EURO 2016 FINAL Portugal 1-0 France (AET)
SEP 2015 FRIENDLY Portugal 0-1 France
OCT 2014 FRIENDLY France 2-1 Portugal
JUL 2006 WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL Portugal 0-1 France
APR 2001 FRIENDLY France 4-0 Portugal
JAN 1997 FRIENDLY Portugal 0-2 France
JAN 1996 FRIENDLY France 3-2 Portugal

France looked excellent in their opening match of the tournament against Germany. An own-goal from Mats Hummels was all that separated the two sides in the end, but France had two goals from Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema chalked off for very close offsides and looked good value for their win.

However, complacency certainly crept into their next performance against Hungary. Many assumed it would be a complete walkover for Didier Deschamps’ men but the Hungarians were organised and resolute and perhaps deserved more than the 1-1 draw that they eventually got.

France will know that they have to be better than that if they’re to live up to their tag of pre-tournament favourites, but they’re also always in with a chance of outscoring opponents with a strike-force of Mbappe, Benzema and Antoine Griezemann.

I do expect France to improve and build on that flat performance against Hungary and Portugal, although have proven that they have goals in them, were badly exposed defensively against the Germans. A France win feels like the most likely outcome and there is some value there at 23/20.

Portugal full-back Joao Cancelo tested positive for COVID-19 just before the tournament began and his deputy, Nelson Semedo, has really struggled to adjust to playing in a back-four. He could have a torrid time up against France’s frightening attacking options and he may well end up having to foul them to stop them.

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