Five talking points
Here’s Daniel Taylor’s match report on an unforgettable night
PORTUGAL ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
Ronaldo limps and winces up the steps with his team-mates. For the first time in a while he is wearing the broadest smile. After a few selfies and a lot of jumping around, Ronaldo lifts the trophy, screams with delight and starts kissing it. He looks like he cannot believe this has happened. The worst moment of his career has turned into the greatest.
That’s it for tonight’s live blog. Thanks for your company and emails; congratulations to Portugal on a famous triumph in considerable adversity. Night!
It’s funny how football works (2). Without Iceland’s injury-time goal against Austria, Portugal would not be European champions.
It’s funny how football works. In the last 20 years, Portugal have had teams with far more attacking intent and flair, and they won bugger all. This team will forever be the first Portugal side to win a major tournament.
France started so well, but weirdly the Ronaldo injury seemed to interrupt their flow. Sissoko and the substitute Coman were brilliant going forward; the rest, not so much. This game will haunt them for a long while.
I don’t know where to start. This is a sensory overload of emotion. Portugal are European champions, despite losing Ronaldo after 25 minutes, despite winning one match in 90 minutes, despite looking like they could lose 4-0 in the first 10 minutes.
France are shattered, with Coman in tears as well. I’ve never known so many tears in a football match. So many people were immense for Portugal: Pepe, Nani, Rui Patricio, Ronaldo, Carvalho, Pepe, Pepe. Pepe.
Ronaldo collapses in tears for the 18th time tonight! Portugal are going absolutely wild! There are tears everywhere, Ronaldo is on his back. This is a glorious triumph of the human spirit. Where do you start? Pepe, who was utterly magnificent, has just been sick on the pitch.
PORTUGAL ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!
What an astonishing story! Twelve years after their heartbreak against Greece, they have beaten the hosts 1-0 in the final!
120+1 min There are two minutes of added time, and Eder wins a free-kick. He has been brilliant.
120 min Joao Mario so nearly breaks through on goal, but Sagna makes a crucial last-man tackle. The move was sparked again by Nani, who has been magnificent since moving to the right wing.
119 min Quaresma is now playing at left back!
117 min Guerreiro has cramp, or some other injury, which leads to a break in play. He is being helped off the field, and they have used all three subs. I’m sure he’ll come back on even if it’s just to stand around and get in the way. Ronaldo is going mad on the touchline, trying to get Guerreiro back on the pitch.
116 min A great run from Nani, who has had a terrific game, ends with a low cross that is very well cleared by Sagna.
116 min Martial tries to run Cedric, who defends splendidly. Portugal are four minutes away from immortality.
114 min Pogba is booked for shoving over the breaking Joao Mario. Mark Clattenburg is inexorably homing in on Howard Webb’s record number of yellow cards at the 2010 World Cup final.
113 min Pepe takes no chances and heads behind for a corner. He has been immense. Griezmann’s corner is cleared to Joao Mario. He finds Quaresma, who has a fairly simple first-time ball to put Nani through on goal – and overhits it! Oh my goodness, what a chance that was.
112 min Another superb claim from Rui Patricio after a good left-wing cross from Evra.
110 min Ronaldo is in tears again! Martial is on for Sissoko, France’s last change. Martial has a look of total contempt on his face at the tardiness of his introduction.
This is a sensational finish! Eder has been excellent as a substitute and now he’s scored. He received the ball with his back to goal on the left, with Koscielny tight against him. He held him off, galumphed infield and then, from 25 yards, smashed a fierce low shot that beat the diving Lloris to his right.
GOAL! Portugal 1-0 France (Eder 109)
What a goal from the substitute Eder!!!
GUERREIRO HITS THE BAR!
It was a brilliant free-kick, clipped over the wall with his left foot. Lloris flew to his right and it clattered off the underside of the bar.
108 min Koscielny is booked for handball just outside the France box. It actually hit Eder’s hand. This could be a deluxe Joe Jordan moment, because the free-kick is 25 yards from goal.
107 min “Mind wandering a bit now Rob,” says Charles Antaki. “If it’s penalties, what price Ronaldo shaving his head, mingling with the players, and coming on as Pepe to take the winning kick?”
106 min Moutinho goes down after a high foot from Matuidi, who has been booked. Portugal want Matuidi sent off but I’m not sure he actually touched Moutinho. Either way, Mark Clattenburg gives just a free-kick.
Half time in extra time: Portugal 0-0 France
Ronaldo is going round encouraging the Portugal team, particularly Quaresma. I’m really surprised Martial hasn’t come on.
104 min A corner to Portugal on the right, to be taken by Quaresma. It’s a good utswinger that is headed towards goal by Eder, and as it kicks up Lloris is able to pat it away. It almost came for another Portugal playing following up, but a France player booted it clear. No, I’ve no idea who either of them were. It’s been a long tournament and I’ve got RSI in my left hand. You’re welcome!
102 min Sissoko overhits a cross from the right. Gignac chases doggedly after that, and then miscontrols it for a goal-kick.
101 min Pogba wins a corner on the right. France have a bit of momentum for the first time in a while. Griezmann will take the corner ... but it’s too deep and goes out for a throw-in. I’m really surprised Martial hasn’t come on.
99 min William Carvalho takes a booking for the cause, chopping Coman down after another superb run. Coman, Sissoko and Pepe have had great games.
98 min Matuidi is booked for a foul on Eder, who landed badly. Matuidi didn’t do much wrong but the landing made it look worse.
96 min “Is Carvalho the next Makelele?” asks Dileep Premachandran. “What a wonderfully assured display from one so young.”
95 min Guerreiro is booked for pulling back Sissoko.
90+4 min Eder has held the ball up well since coming on, and wins a free-kick after a foul by Umtiti. It’s 35 yards out, to the right of centre; Quaresma curls it towards Pepe, who flashes a header just wide. He’d been flagged offside so it wouldn’t have counted, though that wasn’t clear at the time and on TV it looked like it was going to ripple the far corner of the net.
93 min Nothing is happening. Portugal should theoretically be more tired, as this is their third period of extra-time. If France lose this on penalties, they will forever regret their lack of urgency.
92 min “My first finals were Mexico 86,” writes James Debens. “Nothing will ever beat the very Ulysses 31-sounding Rick Wakeman-soundtrack of “Hero”, the documentary of it voiced by Sir Michael Caine. Synth.” The bit where Francescoli is roughed up by the Danish defenders is literally the most dramatic audio I have ever heard, ever, and I listen to the Archers.
91 min France begin extra-time, kicking from right to left. Despite their best efforts, one of these sides will be European Champions in the next hour.
Full time: Portugal 0-0 France
It’s extra-time, and I need a convenience break. See you in a few minutes!
90+2 min GIGNAC HITS THE POST!
He’s done a Rensenbrink! It was a brilliant piece of play from the substitute Gignac. He received a low cross from Evra at the near post, on the six-yard line, and turned ingeniously away from Pepe – not once but twice – before scuffing his shot past Patricio and onto the inside of the near post.
90+1 min There will be three added minutes, and in the first of those Koscielny makes an excellent and vital tackle to stop Nani’s marauding run.
90 min A gorgeous cross from Sagna on the right just escapes the sliding Gignac and is calmly claimed by Rui Patricio.
88 min “Pogba doesn’t half vanish out of games for extended periods doesn’t he?” says Hubert O’Hearn. “Guy Mowbray mentioned his name and I had completely forgotten he was on the pitch.” Generation YouTube innit. That said, he’s only 23.
87 min Nani has looked more dangerous since moving to the right. It’s almost as if that’s his best position! He comes infield away from Evra tries to play a one-two with Eder, but Matuidi tracks him all the way and clears.
84 min Another save from Rui Patricio! Sissoko galumphed forward to within 25 yards before hitting a fierce shot across goal that was palmed away by Rui Patricio as he dived to his right. It was a dramatic save but pretty comfortable for a keeper of his apparently considerable quality.
84 min “Just got back after failing to get into the Paris Fan Zone,” says Robert Wilson. “I’m sorry to say that it kicked off pretty bigtime outside (and was still going when I scarpered). A good few broke through barriers. Cops attacked, teargas, charges and quite a few grey-haired American tourists festively thumped. I’m officially done with football. Wouldn’t happen at the cricket.” In 2016, it probably would. We all live in a Biff Tannen world.
83 min I still think France will win this. But you can tell they, and particularly the crowd, have stared to think the unthinkable.
82 min After a neat move from Portugal, Nani rakes a rising drive over the bar from 25 yards with his left foot.
81 min With Eder on, Nani is now playing on the right wing in the same 4-1-4-1 formation as before.
80 min Nani’s mishit cross almost sneaks in! Lloris had to backpedal to flap it away, and was in position to catch Quaresma’s scissor-kick on the follow-up. Then Umtiti is booked for something or other. This game has been terrific in the last 10 minutes.
78 min A substitution for both sides: Andre-Pierre Gignac replaces Giroud, and Eder comes on for Renato Sanches. That’s their final substitution.
77 min Guerreiro breaks down the left and ushers the sliding Sissoko to the wrong fire, but then his cross is headed away. At the other end, after another burst from the brilliant Coman, Griezmann takes the ball off Giroud’s foot in the area! This game is in serious danger of becoming exciting.
75 min Another terrific save from Rui Patricio denies Giroud! It was created by the superb Coman, who played a cute little pass into the box for Giroud, who cracked an excellent left-footed shot towards the far bottom corner that was palmed away by the plunging Rui Patricio.
74 min “You could make the case for the last Euro final being a classic, I suppose, the first half at least,” says Phil Podolsky. “A peak display by one of the all time greatest national teams that made it a one-sided affair despite Italy’s excellence, capped off by two low-key astonishing goals. Followed by 45 minutes of garbage time, so bad that Torres got to be involved in both tap-ins.”
Yeah I know what you mean; it was the signature performance of one of the great sides. But I think most people would only consider close contests as classic finals.
73 min Coman has grabbed this game by the scruff of the balls. He plays a one-two with Giroud and surges into the area, but there is nobody there to meet his cross.
72 min Portugal’s attacking has been hopeless. I can only see them winning this on penalties.
71 min A precis of the excitement in the last five minutes:
67 min Portugal make their second substitution, with Joao Moutinho replacing Adrien Silva.
66 min What a miss from Griezmann! Pogba drilled a beautiful long pass to the substitute Coman on the left wing. He came infield and curled an inswinging cross that dipped over the head of a defender and found Griezmann six yards out. Somehow, and I have no idea how, he headed it wide. What a chance!
65 min “Did a quick tally, Rob,” says Robert Wolf Petersen. “Of the 26 teams to contest a World Cup final before 1990, not one failed to score. Since then, 7 of the 14 teams to have contested WC finals have drawn a blank. I’d do something similar for European Championship finals, given that this is one, but there’s not such a pronounced trend.” Such honesty will get you nowhere in the world of statistics.
63 min See 52 minutes. The pattern is exactly the same as it was then. France, really, have been poor tonight, though the Ronaldo injury did seem to distract them a fair bit.
62 min Joao Mario is rightly booked by English referee Mark Clattenburg for a cynical trip on Giroud. There’s very little happening in a creative sense, though Evra has just won a corner for France.
60 min Thanks to Gary Naylor for this, which shows the extent of the injury that Ronaldo tried to overcome for 15 minutes. In a weird way, this injury might have a positive influence on how he’s remembered. Who knows.
59 min A nice touch from Coman allows Griezmann to burst into the area on the left, but his low shot is comfortably held by Rui Patricio. Coman is playing on the left, such is Sissoko’s influence in the centre-right.
59 min A France substitution: Kingsley Coman replaces Dimitri Payet, who may have unwittingly won the final for France with his tackle on Ronaldo. Payet had a good tournament, albeit of diminishing returns.
58 min “This hasn’t been a classic, but it’s no 1994,” says Kari Tulinius. “My abiding memory of Brazil-Italy is having a growing suspicion that this is what death must feel like. I hope the game picks up!”
I think this is worse, and not only because 1994 had Barry Davies and Baresi. The decline in tournament finals from 1990 onwards is staggering.
56 min Joao Mario’s fast, flat cross from the left is headed behind by Umtiti on the six-yard line. The corner is taken by Quaresma, and Evra heads away.
55 min The game is delayed when somebody runs onto the field before being caught by security. Give it up, Cristiano, etc, etc.
54 min A bouncing ball comes to Pogba, who wallops it over from 30 yards. “I would like to apologise to Steve Pine on behalf of Germany for showing football on German public television, not British pay TV,” says Fred Muehl. “I agree it’s pretty ignorant and provincial wanting to watch football in our own language.” Typical German arrogance.
53 min This is an excellent spell for France, who win a corner after another clearance from Pepe. Rui Patricio comes a long way to take it off a French head and grabs it at the second attempt.
52 min Portugal are doing well defensively but it’s very hard to see them scoring, which in some cultures might be considered problematic for those hoping to win a football match.
51 min Payet beats two players just outside the box before Pepe makes a wonderful interception. He’s had an outstanding game.
50 min The first major tournament final I watched was in the 1986 World Cup. When it comes to finals, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.
49 min Sissoko is fortunate not to be booked for a foul on Pepe.
48 min “They say confession is good for the soul, so I must admit that I was briefly happy when Ronaldo went down,” says Scott Martin. “I have never liked him. But he is a human, and an absolutely brilliant footballer. For him to miss this match because of injury? Really? What kind of a** could possibly want that?” About 80 per cent of humanity, I suspect.
47 min “Rob,” says Adam Becker, “we’re still waiting for you to settle the debate about Payet’s non-foul on Ronaldo. Even if it was a foul, it was never a red card, as someone said before.”
Possibly a foul, no way it was a red card. There, that’s settled!
46 min Peep peep! France begin the second half, kicking from left to right. At some stage in the next hour or two, somebody is going to score a European Championship-winning goal, and it’ll change their life forever.
“Steve Pine’s Sky box bug,” says Damien Clarke, “is probably a moth.”
“I’m reminded of the ‘91 FA Cup final when Gascoigne - at the height of his powers - crocked his knee early doors, seemingly handing the day to Forest, but for Spurs to win out,” says Sean O. “It’s never over.” Good point, that. Spurs were 1-0 down as well by the time Gascoigne was subbed. Spurs were exceptional in that game and should have won it before extra-time; Portugal won’t be able to dominate like that but they could nick it.
The ITV panel - Dixon, Wright, Giggs, Keane - don’t think it was a foul by Payet.
“Every player is an athlete, every defence organised, every player committed to their job - but they’re just not good enough, technically nor imaginatively, to play exciting football,” says Gary Naylor. “Perhaps England’s best chance of winning a tournament in the future is the sense that other nations are regressing to an English style of play.”
“I’ve found it now,” writes Steve Pine (see the 26th minute), “but there’s definitely a bug in the Sky box I’ve got. Sorry Germany.”
Half time: France 0-0 Portugal
A half dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo, and he wasn’t on the pitch for most of it. He was stretchered off with a knee injury after a tackle from Dimitri Payet. The game lost its way a little after that, but that was good for Portugal, who were hanging on desperately in the first 10-15 minutes. See you soon for the second half.
45+2 min In the last seconds of added time, Joao Mario’s inswinging cross towards Nani skims a few yards wide of the far post.
45 min “There’s no chance Payet took out Ronaldo on purpose,” says Hubert O’Hearn. “Even if there was an NFL-style ‘bounty’ on him, no sane team would ever make their best creator the hit man. Uh uh. No conspiracy here.”
Agreed. He probably wanted to leave a bit on him but there’s no way he would have tried to put him out of the game. I’ll be interested to see it again though because the emails are about 50/50 on whether it was a foul or not.
43 min This is Portugal’s best spell of the match. France have lost their way a little after that fantastic start. The camera cuts to Luis Figo and catches him in the middle of an extended yawn.
41 min Payet’s shot is superbly blocked by Pepe, who heads away Sagna’s follow-up cross to launch a Portugal break. Joao Mario gets away from Pogba on the left before Matuidi gets back to concede a corner. As Glenn Hoddle says on ITV, the tactical change has helped Portugal.
39 min Sissoko looks like he’s had an intravenous injection of Carpe Diem before the match. He has been sensational, consistently vrooming through the centre of the pitch in the Portugal half.
37 min Despite everything, including themselves, Portugal are in this final. France have threatened through Sissoko in particular, but Portugal are having some promising attacks of their own. On one such break, Nani does very well to find Adrien Silva just inside the box. He gets caught in 48 minds and does nothing, but Portugal eventually win a corner. Now the substitute Quaresma is injured, after a tackle by Umtiti. That doesn’t look good either. From the corner, Fonte gets above Koscielny near the penalty spot but can’t control his header and it goes high over the bar.
35 min “CR7 has the will of Keyser Soze, but he can’t lose the limp at the end,” says Matt Dony. “ I’m genuinely heartbroken for him. I really like Ronaldo, I have no problem with his on-field cockiness, because it’s backed up by supreme talent and a ridiculous amount of hard work. He’s a magnificent, too-often-maligned footballer, and deserves better than this in a game of this magnitude.” It’s fascinating how often sport is downright sadistic towards its greats. There are very few happy endings, unless you’re Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
34 min Sissoko beats Adrien Silva with a deluxe nutmeg – flicking behind his own standing leg and through Adrien’s – before battering a snapshot that is beaten away by Rui Patricio. Good save. Cedric is then booked for a knee in the back of Payet. Sissoko has been outstanding so far.
33 min “Hi Rob,” says Jan Laznik, “is it too cynical of me to think Ronaldo was deliberately taken out of this match?”
32 min France are still the better team, though Portugal are under less pressure and Rui Patricio has had little to do since the Griezmann header in the 10th minute. The game is still in a kind of post-Ronaldo limbo.
30 min The game has been very bitty since Ronaldo first went down in the eighth minute. But Sissoko enlivens things with another devastating run before his cross is deflected behind for a corner.
29 min “Of course the game is shown on German TV,” says Hauke Wemken, ruining a good story with cold, hard facts.
28 min “Payet getting the ball doesn’t make it fair or legal to use the follow-through to knee Ronaldo in the knee while another French player sandwiches him in,” says Miguel Lobo. “That was a red card, and this is a shame to the game. It would never had gone unpunished on, say, Zidane. From this point on, if France win it will be dirty and forever tainted.”
No it doesn’t, you’re right, but at first look I didn’t think there was anything malicious in the follow-through. I’d need to see it again. And we’ll be seeing it again all right.
27 min Portugal have moved to a 4-1-4-1 now, with Nani up front on his own. That’s fair enough as they were being overrun in midfield.
26 min “The game is not being shown live on TV here in Germany,” says Steve Pine. “Can you believe that? I’m watching on the internet. It’s as if they’ve lost all interest.”
Are you serious? That’s gloriously petty if so.
24 min Ronaldo throws his armband to the floor in anger. He needs a stretcher to be helped off, and is in tears again as he hands the armband to Nani before being helped onto a stretcher. This is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen on a football field. He’s applauded off by both sets of fans, and Didier Deschamps comes over to wish him well as he is taken down the tunnel. Ricardo Quaresma replaces him.
23 min Ronaldo can barely run. He still manages to hobble towards a left-wing cross that is headed clear by Umtiti, and Joao Mario volleys well wide from 20 yards.
22 min The stop-start nature of Ronaldo injury unwittingly stalled France’s momentum, but they are back on top now. Sissoko goes on a storming run through the centre of the pitch before hitting a fierce left-footed shot that is deflected just over the bar.
21 min Ronaldo jogs back on, his knee heavily strapped. I’m not sure he’s going to last long. He has the will of Keyser Soze but I’m not sure there’s much he can do if his knee has gone.
20 min Portugal are playing with 10 men for now, and having their best spell of possession in the match.
18 min Ronaldo is able to walk off, so they are going to try to strap his thigh and knee. But if it’s his knee, he surely has no chance. It’s not as serious of course, but there are weird echoes of the other Ronaldo in 1998.
17 min Ronaldo’s in tears; he must know his final is over. Oh man, sport can be stunningly cruel sometimes. It was a fair tackle from Payet, who caught him with his follow through.
16 min Ronaldo is still struggling after that tackle from Payet. Renato Sanches miscontrols a simple pass into touch. This has been an awful start for them. But it’s still 0-0.
15 min France are harassing and bullying Portugal in possession, and it’s almost painfully one-sided at the moment.
13 min “Evening Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “I think Matt Dony will find that Scotland wrote the book on magnanimity. Softening up Germany during the qualifiers, then letting France thrash us in a warm-up game just before the tournament proper means that it’s Scotland who will be crowned European champions whatever happens in Paris tonight. And after what happened at Wimbledon earlier, Scotland will then rule the sporting world. Right?” It’s a yes from me.
12 min There are still plenty of moths but they haven’t affected the game at all. Portugal are being battered at the moment. They just need to keep this at 0-0 for as long as possible, 120 minutes ideally.
10 min That’s a fine save from Rui Patricio! Pepe slipped over and gave the ball to Payet on the left wing. He played a delicious angled pass over the defence to find Griezmann, who improvised a first-time lobbed header from just inside the box. It was a brilliant effort, and would have looped in but for a crucial leaping save from Rui Patricio. From the resulting corner he made a more comfortable save from Giroud’s header.
8 min Payet puts in a strong challenge on Ronaldo near the halfway line, taking man and ball. Ronaldo looks in quite a lot of pain and is being treated, and booed.
7 min A chance for Griezmann, who screws a half-volley wide of the near post from a tightish angle on the left side of the box. If Portugal aren’t careful this could be over in 20 minutes. France are all over them.
6 min Fonte’s clearing header comes to Sissoko, who splatters a volley into orbit from 20 yards. That wasn’t a bad opportunity.
4 min Portugal almost score out of nothing. The right-back Cedric hammers a long pass over the top to Nani, who runs beyond Koscielny, takes the ball down on his chest and then, as it bounces up, larrups it over the bar from 15 yards.
4 min Ronaldo is being booed - but so are all the other Portugal players whenever they touch the ball. They look a little overwhelmed at the moment and need to get into the game quick smart.
3 min This is the fast start we expected. Carvalho follows Fonte by playing the ball straight into touch. Portugal are all over the place here.
2 min “Those moths will suit Ronaldo down to a tee tonight,” says Justin Kavanagh. “He won’t even have to tear off his shirt when he strokes home the winning penalty after 120 minutes of having it eaten by insects. In years to come it’ll be known as the Shroud of Paris in the Him Museum in Madeira.”
1 min Peep peep! Mark Clattenburg moistens his whistle to signal the commencement of proceedings. Portugal, in red, kick off from left to right; France are in blue. After 13 seconds, Fonte plays a careful, loving crossfield pass straight into touch. That was nervy.
Here come the players! It’s almost time for business, and it appears the moths have gone away.
“I’m nothing if not magnanimous,” says Matt Dony, our Wales correspondent. “Although it would be a lovely story for France to win after Paris, I really want Portugal to do it. They’ve had so many great players (and Nuno Gomes), and right now they have the best player. They deserve some success, and He deserves an international medal. Also, should Portugal win, then there’s nothing to say that Wales couldn’t have won, so I’ll be claiming second place.”
“That 1984 game really was a corker wasn’t it?” says Hubert O’Hearn. “The one hope this one has of matching it is if France score early. Please let France score early! Portugal have played some absolute Novocaine specials this tournament.” And not for the soul.
There is no suggestion of a delayed kick-off, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to play the most important game of your life with a load of moths in your face. Imagine if Olivier Giroud rumbles through on goal and cocks his left foot, only for a moth to fly into his gaping maw a split-second before he makes contact.
Portugal’s plan is simple: resist the inevitable fast start, keep the game tight and wait for the home crowd to get nervous. In other words, exactly what Greece did to them in the final of 2004.
Some pre-match reading
“Evening Rob, and thanks for sharing that corker from 1984,” says Guy Hornsby. “That was, in many ways, Peak Motson for me: grainy footage, legendary France team, incredible game, screaming himself hoarse in a way he won’t likely mind, all these years later. This France team could write themselves into history just as much as that XI, both in terms of the fairytale, patchwork background of many of its squad in lower leagues, and the backstory of the terrible recent months in its country’s capital. They’re the heart and head choice for glory, but after this tournament, what do we know any more? It’s anyone’s on the night, and surely Ronaldo’s last proper chance. He’ll be 35 in 2020.”
If Ronaldo wins this tournament, he owes Iceland a whole heapa love. It was their breakaway goal against Austria that put Portugal in the easy half of the draw. There’s surely no way they would have beaten England, France and Germany to reach the final.
They left the lights on at the Stade de France overnight ... with hilarious consequences
An email “Real Madrid waltzed to the final of the Champions League with the easiest run in a decade - Roma, Wolfsburg, a deplorable City in the semifinals - and won the final on penalties, Ronaldo converting the winner after doing nothing much for 120 minutes,” says Chad Noyes. “Portugal have waltzed to this final with the easiest run in a decade - Croatia, Poland, a depleted Wales - and will win the final on penalties, Ronaldo converting the winner after doing nothing much for 120 minutes. How else could it be?
No surprises with either XI. France are unchanged; Portugal bring in Pepe and William Carvalho, who missed the semi-final through injury and suspension, for Bruno Alves and Danilo.
France (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Sagna, Koscielny, Umtiti, Evra; Pogba, Matuidi; Sissoko, Griezmann, Payet; Giroud.
Substitutes: Jallet, Rami, Kante, Cabaye, Gignac, Martial, Schneiderlin, Mangal, Mandanda, Digne, Coman, Costil.
Portugal (4-1-3-2) Rui Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; William Carvalho; Renato Sanches, Adrien Silva, Joao Mario; Nani, Ronaldo.
Substitutes: Bruno Alves, Carvalho, Moutinho, Eder, Vierinha, Anthony Lopes, Danilo, Andre Gomes, Rafa Silva, Eliseu, Ricardo Quaresma, Eduardo.
Referee Mark Clattenburg (England)
This summer’s must-have accessory
If France win, they will join Germany and Spain on three European Championships. If Portugal win, they will join the Soviet Union, Italy, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece on one. England, since you asked, have four Expected European Championship triumphs in 1968, 1988, 1996 and 2016, and no actual ones.
France have won their last 10 matches against Portugal, going back to the 1970s. That include three semi-finals at major tournaments: an undisputed classic in 1984, when John Motson lost it more than at any other stage in his career; an excellent and controversial game in 2000; and 90 minutes of our life that we’ll never get back in 2006.
Pretty good, thanks for asking.
After 30 days, 50 matches, 107 goals and one Simone Zaza fitness DVD, we’ve reached the final of Euro 2016. It’s been an enjoyable tournament, mainly because of the smaller teams, but there have been few epic moments and no classic match. I wouldn’t bet your last Rolo on us seeing a great game tonight: in the last 30 years, finals of major tournaments have been football’s version of New Year’s Eve, with expectation in inverse proportion to excitement.
The winners will not care if they win on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Good performances are for the future and the past. France want to continue their amazing, almost unfathomable record as hosts; they were the last to win a World Cup, in 1998, and the last to win a European Championship, in 1984. Eight months on from the Paris attacks, their success at this tournament has demonstrated the unique healing power of sport.
France have progressed with such relative comfort that they must wonder whether there is a catch. Unlike in 1984 and 1998 - not to mention their other tournament victory at Euro 2000 - they haven’t really been close to the brink, never mind on it. They even exorcised their German demons without too much fuss. Now they have a very appealing final against a Portugal team who have won only twice at the tournament, and one of those victories came in the 472nd minute of their match against Croatia.
There is a sense that the rest of Europe still isn’t taking Portugal seriously, mainly because of their modest performances. Yet they could be 90 minutes away from immortality. And they have Cristiano Ronaldo, who is desperate to inspire Portugal to their first major trophy and confirm beyond reasonable argument that he is the greatest player of his generation.
The last time France played in a final at home, in 1998, they won a match that will forever be associated with Ronaldo. It’s likely only one of those things can happen tonight. Which will it be?
Kick off is at 8pm in England, 9pm at the Stade de France