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France vs Portugal: 5 Key Battles that could decide the outcome of the game | UEFA Nations League 2020/21

Portugal
Portugal's all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo
Sai Teja
ANALYST
Modified 14 Oct 2020, 01:21 IST
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It's the clash of two football giants in the UEFA Nations League as Portugal and France lock horns in Matchday 3 of the competition on Sunday. The two League A Group 3 sides have won both of their opening games in the group so far.

The Selecao and Les Bleus — the defending European champions and world champions respectively — have been in fine form in the Nations League. Both sides put four goals past 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists Croatia and managed to see off a stubborn Sweden side as well.

France are fresh off another mauling as they dismantled Ukraine by putting seven past them in a friendly, while Portugal played out a well-fought 0-0 draw against former world champions Spain.

The encounter at the Stade de France is expected to be a high-profile one filled with goals and exciting moments. The fixture — a repeat of the 2016 UEFA Euros final at the same venue — would see superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, and several others in action.

Here, we take a look at five key battles that could decide the outcome of the game.


#5 Olivier Giroud vs Ruben Dias

Dias in action for Manchester City
Dias in action for Manchester City

While the Manchester City faithful got a look their new signing in a thrilling 1-1 draw away to Leeds United, they would have another opportunity to see him in action against some of the best players in the world. Ruben Dias is one of the most exciting young defenders out there and he would be up against a World Cup-winning attack, and will be asked to keep an eye on one of the best hold-up strikers in Europe, Olivier Giroud.

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The French veteran, who recently made history by becoming only the seventh centurion in terms of appearances for his country, has been one of Didier Deschamps' go-to men in attack. His 42 goals is only bettered by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Giroud is a handful for any defender in the world even without getting on the scoresheet, and Dias will have to be at his very best physically and mentally to keep tabs on the Chelsea man.

The 23-year-old is no slouch either and is a powerful centre-half who is good in the air. Dias has averaged four (!) aerial duels won per game in the Nations League so far.

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#4 Kylian Mbappe vs Joao Cancelo

Cancelo will have to keep an eye on Mbappe
Cancelo will have to keep an eye on Mbappe

Regardless of the set-up that Deschamps opts for, France have an abundance of striking options, due to which they could go for a strike partnership up top. Although Mbappe is likely to play as one of the two strikers, he is someone who thrives on running into space down the flanks, which could see him come up against Joao Cancelo more often than not.

Manchester City's Portuguese full-back is an attack-minded player who, while his side is in possession, is likely to hold the width to allow Bernardo Silva to drift infield. Should Cancelo do so, Mbappe could have a field day against Portugal as the City man could leave his defence exposed, due to which he will have to go about his defensive duties with the utmost diligence.

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Mbappe came on in the second half of France's friendly and wreaked havoc by cutting in from wide areas into the middle, and contributed with a goal and an assist. He is in fine form, and both Cancelo and Raphael Guerreiro need to be mindful of the Frenchman.


Also read: Top 5 Premier League clubs with highest net spends in the 2020 summer window

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Published 10 Oct 2020, 20:48 IST
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