Euro 2016: France, Portugal to fight tactical battle
July 10th, 2016 at 10:21 pm
Euro 2016: France, Portugal to fight tactical battle

Sports desk – France and Portugal are ready to fight a tough battle to clinch the title of the Euro 2016 Sunday night amid the authorities beefed up security across France to ensure trouble-free final match.

According to an ESPN analysis in a tactical sense, the final is rarely the most fascinating game of a major international tournament.

It’s usually a tight and tense, but not particularly tactical, contest between two sides playing cautiously, waiting for the opposition to make a mistake rather than prompting it through clever strategy.

In all probability, we’ve probably seen the most interesting tactical battles from Euro 2016: Italy’s 2-0 second-round win over Spain, their subsequent 1-1 draw with Germany at the quarterfinal stage, and Germany’s 2-0 defeat to France on Thursday.

Those three matches will be as good as this tournament gets. Nevertheless, Sunday’s Euro 2016 final promises to be an intriguing clash between two sides, France and Portugal, who are individually interesting for very different reasons.

France coach Didier Deschamps hasn’t entirely worked out his optimum system throughout this competition, chopping and changing between two very different setups, while Portugal manager Fernando Santos has stuck to roughly the same, highly unusual shape throughout.

France are the favourites for this final, but tactically speaking, Deschamps is likely to be the more reactive manager.

Portugal essentially use a four-man defence in conjunction with a midfield diamond, an approach none of the other 23 teams in this competition used as their default system. More specifically, it’s a 4-1-3-2 rather than a 4-3-1-2, with holding midfielder William Carvalho stationed solidly in front of the defence, leaving Joao Mario, Adrien Silva and Renato Sanches to push forward, drifting around into pockets of space.

Unfortunately, that trio has drifted into the same pockets of space too frequently throughout this competition. Their fluidity in the 1-1 quarterfinal victory over Poland was particularly baffling, with all three showing flashes of invention but rarely actually combining to play around opposition midfielders.

At times, the freedom afforded to that trio means Portugal’s structure in possession is awful, inviting teammates to play around the opposition’s block rather than actually play through it, and there’s an incredible lack of genuinely good passing moves, especially for a side that features so many talented passers.

There’s also something peculiar about how Portugal are so passive without possession, dropping back into their own half rather than looking to press, despite the use of lots of young, energetic midfielders. And also, for that matter, it’s strange that Portugal are trying to play on the counterattack but aren’t actually very good at attacking transitions, and haven’t remotely got the best from Cristiano Ronaldo on the break, despite the Real Madrid attacker being arguably the most devastating counterattacking player football has ever seen.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal will face France in the Euro 2016 final after the tournament hosts beat world champions Germany 2-0 on Thursday evening.

Didier Deschamps’ side will face Portugal at the Stade de France looking to complete a hat-trick of tournament victories on home soil.

With Griezmann once more irrepressible with two goals against Germany, they will be strong favourites to do that.

Portugal secured their place in the final on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory against Wales.

William Carvalho is likely to return to Portugal’s starting line-up after missing their semi-final with Wales through suspension, while Pepe still struggles for fitness, according to British newspaper Evening Standard.

The Real Madrid defender sat out Wednesday’s night clash with a thigh injury, and trained alone yesterday in a bid to prove his fitness. Should he miss out in Paris, veteran Bruno Alves will likely start.

For hosts there are no fresh injury concerns to trouble coach Deschamps, who has named an unchanged XI for the first for last Thursday’s semi-final.