UEFA EURO 2016 has reached its final stage and all we got to do is wait till today evening for the showpiece battle to commence. Portugal and France have risen above all nations to reach the finals and are one step away from glory.
One thing UEFA EURO 2016 tournament promised us was interesting matches and that is exactly what we got. Teams like Iceland and Wales surprised us the most with their persistent efforts, they proved their worth. Iceland reaching the quarterfinals and wales reaching the semis turned out to be the proudest moment of their footballing histories. On the other hand, big guns like Spain and England’s early departure from last 16 round was quite a shock. Before the start of the tournament, France were considered as title contenders but nobody expected Portugal to reach the finals after their below par performance in the group stage. These two European superpowers are all set to hustle each other in Paris today evening at the UEFA EURO 2016 final.
Though it is becoming harder to wait, here are some highlights of both teams’ journey to the final that may help boost your excitement levels or kill some time before the finals.
France was consistent
After winning the 1984 Euro championships and 1998 World cup, France (les bleus) could be the first team to win three major international trophies as a host country. Les bleus started as tournament favorites, but many experts criticized the lack of experience in the French squad. This youngster filled squad managed to come on top with their five wins and one draw. France with their attacking style of play, is surely the most consistent team of the Euros. They finished their group stage campaign on the top of the table and defeated Ireland in a hard fought 2-1 win in last 16. In quarterfinals they defeated the mighty Iceland with a huge 5-2 score. They came out with flying colors in their toughest test with a 2-0 victory over world champions Germany in the semifinal round.
Portugal is not just about Ronaldo
Portugal’s performance in the group stage was far from convincing in which Cristiano Ronaldo’s side secured just three points with three draws. CR7 went without scoring in the first two games, but scored twice in the third game against Hungary. It was the team effort which carried the team to the finals with the likes of Nani, Renato Sanchez, Ricardo Quaresma, all delivering outstanding performances. Portugal’s patient and repressive style of play was adequate enough to defeat Croatia in the last sixteen and Poland in the quarter finals. They were patient enough to carry the game after 90 minutes and then got the results after opposition’s mistakes. Their only convincing win came against wales with Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani scoring one goal each.
This is biggest chance for Portugal, as they have never won a major international trophy. Last they defeated France in a football match was in a 1975 friendly.
There are ample reasons to watch the finals but the most exciting reason is the presence of star power in both teams. Here are six star players who could light up the final match –
All of his domestic and international career, sometimes he has given some extraordinary performances or sometimes he has gone invisible on the field. Even Portugal fans didn’t expect such spectacular performances from him, but this guy just delivered on time. With his three goals and an assist he is the second joint top scorer of the tournament.
From a West-ham sensation to a France national hit, he has made his presence felt in the Euros with a stunning free-kick and crazy long range goals. He has three goals and two assists in the tournament.
He will be celebrating his 18th birthday next month and he is already in the Portuguese national team. On the field he looks like an experienced box to box midfielder with his ebullient style of play. Coach Fernando Santos has already made him a starter. He scored Portugal’s only goal against Poland with a stunning curled finish.
Carrying a price tag of more than 100 million euros, the hottest talent in Europe has shown some glimpses of his capability with a goal against Iceland but expecting something spectacular from him in the final would not be wrong.
Undoubtedly the best player of the competition and the top scorer with 6 goals. No other player has scored more than 3 goals in the competition. He will look for revenge against Cristiano Ronaldo as the former was defeated at the club level in the final of UEFA Champions league. His hotline bling celebration after every goal is a treat to watch.
One of the most talked about football players went two games without scoring, then landed himself in a controversy by angrily throwing a reporter’s mike in the lake, but came back with a bang on the pitch by scoring two goals against Hungary. Once again he shut down his haters by scoring a decisive first goal against Wales in the semifinals.
With these men on the field tonight, we think it is going to be a great evening watching them do their magic on the field! So buckle up and sit tight to enjoy this most awaited UEFA Euro 2016 finals!