Euro 2016: Revisiting previous Euro clashes between France and Portugal
After a total of 316 football matches (including qualifying and the final tournament) with 801 goals scored, UEFA Euro 2016 has come down to only one match which will be played between France and Portugal at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Hosts France will be looking to win their third European title at the same ground where their current coach Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup in 1998.
France have been a very formidable team in the tournament and will be coming into the final with a lot of confidence as they beat World Champions Germany in the semi-final. Two of the tournament’s best players in Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann have helped propel the French side into the final and Les Bleus will be banking on them to deliver in the all-important match.
Portugal on the other hand, had a subdued start to their tournament and were lucky to be one of the best third-placed teams to qualify for the knockout rounds but their performances have improved ever since as they beat tough opponents like Croatia and Poland in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively before packing up a resilient Welsh side in the semi-final.
Portugal’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was in scintillating form during the semi-final and this could probably be his best opportunity to win a trophy with the national team after finishing runners-up to Greece in Euro 2004. However, both France and Portugal are no strangers to each other as this will be their third meeting at the Euros with their previous two meetings coming in the semi-final in 1984 and 2000. As both sides prepare for today's title clash, let's take a look at their previous euro encounters.
#1 Euro 1984
Euro 1984 was France’s second appearance at the Euros and they were heavy favorites for the title as they were the tournament hosts. Their tournament chances were given a big boost after the exit of West Germany in the first round. In the semi-final, France took on Portugal at Marseille in what is regarded as one of the greatest matches in the tournament’s history.
France took the lead in the 24th minute through Jean-Francois Domergue and their “Magic Square” quartet consisting of the likes of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Alain Giresse and Luis Fernandez kept piling pressure on Portugal’s backline and forced several saves from their goalie Bento. Portugal found the equalizer in the 74th minute when Fernando Chalana’s cross was headed in the back of the net by Rui Jordao. Soon after that Portugal’s 35-year-old goalkeeper pulled off one of the saves of the tournament after he blocked Platini’s shot before touching the ball onto the bar from Didier Six’s rebound.
The match headed into extra time and now the pressure fell on France as Portugal went 2-1 up through Rui Jordao’s second goal of the match. However, France regrouped and found the equalizer through Domergue in the 114th minute. Then in the 119th minute, Jean Tigana’s cross was hobbled by Bento before it was calmly hit in the back of the net by Michel Platini. France won that thrilling encounter by 3-2 and would eventually go on to win the tournament, beating Spain in the final.
#2 Euro 2000
France came into Euro 2000 as heavy favorites, having won the World Cup two years before. Apart from a 3-2 loss to the Netherlands in the group stages, France had dominated every single game in the tournament and in the semi-final, they were up against a strong Portugal team that had won every single match of the tournament so far.
The match was held in Brussels and it was Portugal who took the lead in the 19th minute through a brilliant left-footed shot from Nuno Gomes who scored his fourth goal of the tournament. However, France equalized only six minutes into the second half through Thierry Henry. Both sides were in pursuit of an equalizer with Portugal’s Abel Xavier having a golden opportunity to score through Luis Figo’s free-kick only for his header to be tipped over the bar by French goalie Fabien Barthez.
The match went into extra-time and it was France who were exerting more pressure which finally led to a fatal mistake from Portugal. With only three minutes to go, Sylvain Wiltord’s shot was handled by Abel Xavier and the Les Blues were awarded a penalty. Zinedine Zidane stepped up to take the penalty and successfully converted it to take France to the final where they beat Italy 2-1 to win their second European championship.