The top teams of the tournament. When the groups for Euro 2020 were drawn, France and Portugal along with Germany landed in the same group. The level of excitement was quite high. Watching these mammoths battle for a place in the knockout rounds was going to be a treat for football fans all around the globe. These teams constituted some of the best players in the world right now and it was a neck to neck competition in terms of players at every position. But the current scenario depicts a different story.
The defending champions had a crown to uphold and why should they not? They had some of the best players in the world nonetheless Cristiano Ronaldo, the person who led this team to international glory. Apart from him, there are many players with high calibre and the ability to dominate such as Ruben Dias (PFA player of the year 2020-21), Bruno Fernandes (the Portuguese magnifico), Bernado Silva, Ruben Neves, Andre Silva, Joao Felix and much more capable to turn around any match in which they appear.
Alas! It has not been so. No matter how amazing this team would look on the team sheets, if you can’t make the players understand each other and establish a free-flowing game on the pitch, all those stars will be of no use if they can’t align themselves.
The star-studded champions struggled in the first match against Hungary only to break the deadlock in the 84th minute of the match. They somehow managed to win that match by 3-0.
Hungary vs. Portugal
In the next match, they were shown clearly what they were lacking. Germany wreaked havoc against Portugal in a 4-2 win and left a mark on the defending champions with their amazing press. Portugal was struggling immensely in defending the press which caused them to score 2 own goals. This team had no tactics and if there were any, they were nullified by the Germans efficiently.
The favourites to win the competition in the preview struggled to even qualify the group stages. As of now Portugal is sitting in the third position and are not in a condition to even make the top 2 of their group. The final match of the group stage will be against the group leaders France who won’t be an easy team to beat.
“Anyone can progress. This group was always very strong.” Santos said. “Whether we progress or not is still up to us. And we must respond to this.” The Portuguese manager conveyed his concerns and ambitions.
The world cup winners have been going through a glorious campaign. They have a team capable of defending, attacking and doing anything possible in the world of football. The French have always produced some of the best players in the history of football. To name a few- Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and the count goes on.
A similar arsenal of players can be seen in the current French team such as Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and many more. The team that crowned themselves the world champions in 2018 have been struggling as well in the ‘Group of Death’. A team like this would be expected to effortlessly thrive through the group stages but the team have not been performing at the level they are supposed to.
They beat Germany by a score of 1-0 with the help of an own goal of Mats Hummels, after Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema had their goals disallowed. They were dominated in every aspect by the Germans as the French had lesser shots as well as lesser possession of the ball. As they crossed a hurdle to gain three points the next match should have been an easy stride.
A match against Hungary in no shape or form should have been anything less than a 3 pointer. But they had to settle for a draw in the match with a score of 1-1 as Attila Fiola put Hungary ahead at the end of the first half. They missed a lot of early chances with Karim Benzema missing out on sitters including a lack of finishing chances by others as well. The French would have had lost the game if not for a finish by Antoine Griezmann.
Griezmann scores against Hungary
A team like France should not have suffered against a team like Hungary. Being the favourites to win the competition France should have performed much better than this.
“Everyone has given the best of themselves,” Sallai said after the game. “So we should be proud of ourselves. We stayed focused in the last 10 minutes, we deserved this point.”
The final matchday of the group stage will be played deciding who will qualify the group effortlessly by a win and who will have to wait for the third place qualifications. The winner of Group F will be matched against the third position holders of group A, B, C in the round of 16. So it will either be against Switzerland, Finland or Ukraine.
Portugal VS France
A win in this match will require both the teams to be performing at their level best as they are going up against the best. They will need tactics, individual performances as well as team performances to be at their level best.
The question that still wanders our mind is that will it be France who will grab those 3 points, will it be Portugal’s destiny to top the group or will it end in a stalemate with both teams performing poorly in terms of attacking, creation and defence just like they have in the past 2 matches?