The most-awaited fixture of Euro 2020 will take place on Wednesday as 2016 European champions Portugal take on world champions France in the Group of Death. In what will be a repeat of the Euro 2016 finals, both sides have much to fight for – a spot in the knockout rounds. Portugal’s 2-4 defeat at the hands of Germany and Hungary’s impressive 1-1 draw against France have made the final fixtures crucial for all four teams, and it will be an exciting night for fans of the game.
Here’s our preview of Wednesday’s Euro 2020 fixture between France and Portugal:
Les Bleus failed to secure a knockout spot in their game against Hungary as a surprisingly resilient Hungarian side scored late in the first half and were successful in holding back the French throughout the night to secure a draw. The French now lead the group with just four points, and both Germany and Portugal have the opportunity on Wednesday to kick them down to the third spot.
Kylian Mbappe, the star of the show for France in the FIFA World Cup, has failed to produce a spark in the first two games. The return of Karim Benzema has added firepower to the French attack, but he is yet to produce a goal for the team. N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba looked efficient in the midfield, but they need support from Adrien Rabiot to be more effective. Antoine Griezmann, the top scorer in Euro 2016, has been the lone performer for Les Bleus so far, saving them from an upset loss to Hungary.
Ousmane Dembele will be missing the fixture, as well as the rest of the Euros as he picked up a knee injury in the game against Hungary. Didier Deschamps will likely continue with his standard 4-3-3 formation with Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe at the front.
The 2016 champions began their campaign on a high note with a thumping 3-0 victory over Hungary, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice in the fixture. They entered the fixture against Germany hoping to seal their knockout berth, but a surprise show from Joachim Low’s men left them licking their wounds by the end of the night.
Cristiano Ronaldo has shone for Portugal as expected. The captain has scored thrice already in the tournament, leading the list of Golden Boot contenders. He will look to extend his record as all-time lead scorer in the tournament. But Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva have failed to spark at the front, and Fernando Santos might have to tweak his 4-2-3-1 formation a bit to allow for a more defensive setup. Portugal’s weakness has always been its midfield, and the contrast will be high on Wednesday as they have to take on the likes of N’Golo Kante and Pogba.
Joao Cancelo is out of the tournament with COVID, but the rest of the team is available. Fernando Santos is expected to continue with the same starting XI, but will likely change his tactics to fend off the French attackers.
HEAD TO HEAD
The head to head between both sides is in favour of Les Bleus, with 19 outright victories from 27 fixtures. France have also won three of their last five encounters. Didier Deschamps’ men defeated Portugal 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League fixture back in November. Notably, the only victory for Portugal in the last ten fixtures came in the final of the 2016 European Championships, when Cristiano Ronaldo’s men overcame Les Bleus in extra time to claim the trophy. This will be the first encounter between both teams in a major international tournament since then, and France will be eager to take revenge on Portugal.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Germany’s unexpected resurgence against Portugal has left the Group of Death’s knockout berths wide open for contention. Germany will take on Hungary, where they expect a victory, leaving Portugal and France to battle it out for the other knockout spot. The winner is assured of a knock-out berth, while the loser has to keep the goal difference low to hope for advancement. A draw would see both France and Portugal through to the knockout rounds.
France are undoubtedly the more composed side, but they showed signs of weakness against Hungary. Portugal, on the other hand, were caught unaware by Germany and would certainly look to regroup ahead of the crucial fixture. Expect a closely contested fixture with goals on both sides.
Portugal Predicted XI: Rui Patricio, Nelson Semedo, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira, William Carvalho, Rafa Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo.
France Predicted XI: Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Adrien Rabiot, Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe.
When: Thursday, 24 June 2021, 12:30 AM IST
Where: Ferenc Puskás Stadium, Hungary.
Where to Watch: All Euro 2020 Matches will be streamed live on Sony Six HD and Sony Liv app.
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