EURO 2024 Quarter Finals | Portugal vs France

Portugal Vs France (Hamburg, 21:00)

At this point of the tournament, the fear of early elimination no longer exists. Teams with the stature of these two always face the threat of an early exit because the pressure not to be eliminated during these stages is immense. Both teams are expected to easily reach this stage, which often hampers the quality of football we see in the early stages of a tournament.

In many people's eyes, one of these two teams are considered the favourite to lift the trophy. France is for obvious reasons. They have dominated the football scene for a while now, and only victory will result in a satisfied French public.

Conversely, Portugal won this tournament in 2016 but is much stronger now. Back then, they drew all of their group games and beating France in the final was seen as a mini miracle. Fast forward to now, both teams are full of world-class talent and it's genuinely one of those games that could go either way.




Last 16 Tie

Portugal were expected to beat Slovenia. There was no question about that. After about ten minutes, the Portuguese game plan was going fine. They were on the front foot, putting a lot of pressure on a much inferior Slovenian team (on paper, anyway), but fast-forward an hour and the team looked devoid of ideas.

With five minutes remaining of extra time, Pepe, the 41-year-old, had a calamitous moment. He tripped on the ball and was left on his knees as Slovenian star Šeško was left one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Truth be told, he should have scored, and it is likely to be a moment that will take some getting over for the young forward.

The penalty shootout was the only stage of the game in which Portugal showed absolute dominance, scoring three and conceding zero. At the end of the match, there was no debate that Diogo Costa was the man of the match. Saving all three penalties in the shootout and saving Šeško's shot to ensure the game went to penalties in the first place.

As for France, their last-16 clash was far less dramatic but no less important. Arguably the tie of the last 16, Belgium is a side capable of beating anyone, and although France did have the better of the game, it was played on a knife edge since they knew that at any moment, Belgium, with players like Doku and Kevin De Bruyne, could produce a moment of quality.

The Cristiano Ronaldo Conundrum

The 39-year-old is one of, if not the greatest, players of all time. There is one issue, though. This Portuguese team is so strong that one can make the argument that their all-time top goalscorer is now holding his nation back.

The entire squad is full of quick, nimble players, and it does feel they have to play the great man, no matter what. Against Slovenia, he didn't have his best game. We think it's fair to say that. His team was then rewarded a penalty in extra time, which was expertly saved by Jan Olbak in goal.

This resulted in Ronaldo being in floods of tears. Considering his status in the country, it is remarkable how much the pressure seems to be weighing on his shoulders. Perhaps this outpouring of emotion might be due to his power waning. He is still in unbelievable shape and far from being done in many aspects. However, it could be argued that his presence significantly holds his team back.

Match Analysis

If the match were to be played in our minds of fantasy, this would be a game for the ages. Two teams, full of world-class talent, knowing victory will result in their chances of holding the trophy come the end of the tournament so much greater. Until now, none of these sides have shown their capabilities.

Despite his success with the national side, Didier Deschamps is not without his critics. As we have touched upon in recent previews, his side wins, but they win in a pragmatic fashion. Many French fans feel they can be even more successful if they are able to play with more freedom. We understand where this comes from. In the World Cup, they surrendered a lot of momentum to Argentina early on when they arguably were the team with the better squad.

Match Prediction

Wow! This is nearly impossible. Both teams are crammed with superstars and, in our opinion, are the best two squads left in the tournament. However, their performances have been underwhelming thus far. In fact, up til this point, only Spain can claim to have really impressed.

That said, we probably just have to favour France since they have been there and bought the T-shirt. There is also no question that their manager will make big decisions if called upon. Some sections of the Portuguese media are calling upon Martinez to be braver with his team selection and drop some of the star players.