It was the clash of two champions as France hosted Portugal on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Nations League 2020/21. The League A Group 3 clash, played out between the defending FIFA World Cup champions and the defending UEFA Euros and Nations League winners at the Stade de France, ended in a stale 0-0 draw as both sides shared the spoils.
This was the first time both sides met in a competitive game since Portugal's historic Euro 2016 win at the same venue. It was a well-contested 90 minutes of football during which Les Bleus were arguably the better side, but it accounted for nothing as they failed to convert their chances.
The stats paint a picture of a perfectly even game which it was to a great extent, but the opportunities the home side had — particularly one for Kylian Mbappe where he squared off with Rui Patricio — marginally gave them an edge.
However, there was quite literally nothing to separate the two sides as both sides attempted the same number of shots (ten) and the possession stakes were nearly even at 49-51.
France went into the game with seven changes from their last Nations League outing, which was a comfortable 4-2 win against Croatia. Portugal retained the core of the same side that saw off Sweden in a 2-0 win and made just three changes.
Here, we take a look at the hits and flops from the game.
#5 Hit: Pepe | Portugal
It was a throwback performance from the ex-Real Madrid man as Pepe put out an adventurous display on the night against the reigning world champions. The Portuguese veteran made more clearances than anyone bar Presnel Kimpembe was solid in the air, winning all three of his aerial duels. Pepe was also clean on the ball as he completed more long balls than any outfield player on the pitch, and successfully found his teammate with 98.2% of his passes.
The Porto defender came painfully close to seal a smash and grab for his side with a late goal from a set-piece, but was ruled offside. All in all, even at the age of 37, Pepe showed that he has what it takes to play at such a high level. France were prevented from scoring on their own turf for the first time since 2017, and Pepe played a massive role in keeping them at bay.
#4 Flop: Bernardo Silva | Portugal
Bernardo Silva's display on the night could be summed up in just one word — anonymous. The versatile attacker failed to leave an impression of himself on the game despite playing on the same flank as the swashbuckling Nelson Semedo, who constantly provided the Manchester City man with ample width on the right.
Bernardo tried his best to cut infield and make things happen in the final third, but his display was, simply put, not good enough. He came close to scoring in the first half after Bruno Fernandes beautifully picked him out, but apart from that one chance, there was nothing of note, and he barely even saw the ball. To be fair to Bernardo, he is yet to find his best form as the City winger was out of action for a while. His lack of match sharpness though was evident on the night, to say the least.