France take on Portugal in the Euro 2016 final on Sunday night aiming to win a European Championship on home soil for the second time.
Didier Deschamps’ side have the chance to match the triumph of Euro 1984, when Michel Platini scored a tournament record nine goals on route to lifting the trophy.
They face a Portuguese side looking to win their first major tournament, having lost 1-0 to Greece in their only other appearance in a European Championship final, in 2004.
Portugal have lost their last 10 games against France, who in Antoine Griezmann boast the competition’s top scorer with six goals, but midfielder Joao Mario believes they can spring a surprise at the Stade de France.
“France are playing at home but they haven’t shown their spectacular football,” he said at a pre-match press conference. “We know we always lose to them but this will motivate us.
Pepe has been passed fit for Portugal’s Euro 2016 final clash against France on Sunday after returning to full training.
The Real Madrid defender missed Wednesday’s semi-final win over Wales with a thigh injury and had been considered a doubt ahead of the Paris showpiece against the hosts.
William Carvalho is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing the semi-final through suspension.
France have no fresh injury concerns or suspensions. The host nation named an unchanged team in consecutive games for the first time in their European Championship history in the semi-final, and Deschamps could name the same XI again on Sunday.
This will be the fourth meeting between Portugal and France in a major tournament. The French have won the previous three, all in semi-finals (Euro1984, Euro 2000, World Cup 2006).
Portugal have played the most games (34) in the history of the European Championships without ever winning the tournament.
Before Portugal, the only previous cases of third-placed teams in the group stages reaching the final of a major tournament (World Cup and Euro) was Argentina in the 1990 World Cup and Italy in the same tournament four years later. Neither lifted the trophy.
Portugal are unbeaten in their 13 competitive fixtures under Fernando Santos (winning nine and drawing four). Eight of those nine wins were decided by a single goal.
In major tournaments, Portugal have only lost one of their last 13 games, that was against Germany in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup.
Portugal have conceded only one goal in their last five knockout games at the European Championships, it was against Poland in this year’s quarter-finals.
This will be France’s fifth major tournament final. They have won three of their previous four (Euro 1984 and 2000, World Cup 1998), losing their most recent (World Cup 2006).
France are unbeaten in their last 18 major tournament games played on home soil, winning 16 and drawing two.
Only Germany and Spain (three) have won more European Championships than France (two).
France are the top scorers at euro 2016 with 13 goals in six games. They had not netted that many in a major tournament since Euro 2000 (13).
Portugal have won three of their four penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments (75 per cent). Among European nations to have taken part in at least four shoot-outs, only Germany boast a better ratio (86 per cent).
Meanwhile, France have a 50 per cent success rate in penalty shoot-outs, having won three of the six they have taken part in.
Cristiano Ronaldo has played in more games than any other player at the European Championships (20). None of his three goals and two assists at Euro 2016 have come outside the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Ronaldo has now equalled Platini’s record of nine goals in the European Championships. He has never scored against France (234 minutes of play).
Griezmann has scored/assisted more goals than any other player at EURO 2016 (6 goals, 2 assists). He has the opportunity to become the third French player to finish as sole top scorer at a major tournament after Just Fontaine (World Cup 1958) and Platini (1984).
Deschamps could become the second person to win the European Championships as a player and as a manager after Berti Vogts (unused sub in 1972, winning manager in 1996). Deschamps was the winning captain for France at World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000.
This is a difficult game to predict! It will be a very tight game and I can see it going all the way in Paris.
It’s the first time in the whole tournament that a team will have a go at Portugal. So far, nearly all the teams they’ve played have sat back – even Croatia didn’t really had a go at them.
France, backed by the crowd at the Stade de France, will be obliged to attack Fernando Santos’ side and that could leave space for Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.
And with the trophy being on the line that will add pressure to the occasion for both sides so that’s why I don’t think this game is a forgone conclusion.
In finals, you need your big players to perform so Portugal will be looking at Ronaldo and France will be hoping for even more from their man of the moment, Antoine Griezmann.
I backed France before the tournament but I just don’t see this match being a straight forward for them as everyone thinks. It could be a long night in Paris with Portugal eventually edging it on penalties.
Portugal: Rui Patrício; Cédric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; William Carvalho, Adrien, João Mário, Renato Sanches; Nani, Ronaldo.
Doubtful: Pepe (thigh).
France: Lloris; Sagna, Koscielny, Umtiti, Evra; Pogba, Matuidi; Sissoko, Griezmann, Payet; Giroud.
Fernando Santos, Portugal.
I’ve said before that our objective was to play in the final and win it. We have great belief because we want to make the Portuguese people happy. We want to give them something to celebrate.
I don’t think there’s any point discussing the France team. Everyone knows them very well. Right from the beginning I’ve always said there would be three favourites to win this competition: France, Spain and Germany. And then there were other contenders, including Portugal, who could perhaps also win it.
If we have to pay attention to individuals then we would have to worry about everyone – I would have to list every single name in the France team. They have well-known, top-quality players who play at big teams around the world. Of course, every individual player can make the difference, but Portugal also have a strong team with individual match winners.
I’ve said many times how much I appreciate and am grateful for all the support we’ve had every day, not only at the stadiums but on the way there and at Marcoussis [the Portugal training base]. Today, we will need them even more.
Didier Deschamps, France.
We have this opportunity to become European champions. Whether you’re 18, 20 or much older, there’s a chance to win a title and we need to seize it without thinking about what might happen in the future. The players know they’re privileged to be playing the UEFA EURO 2016 final at home in Paris.
We haven’t had a chance to work on tactics since the semi-final. It’s all been about recovering from that match, but I’m confident my players will be ready for this huge game.
[My win as a player in 2000] belongs to the past. This is their story. I’m a part of it, of course, because I’m the coach. I use it to my advantage, the fact I’ve won major competitions as a player; that helps me, but I never talk about the past. What matters now is the present and the future.
Portugal have a lot of quality and it’s no accident they’re here. Like us, they were criticised at the start of the tournament. Like us, they are now in the final. They are an experienced team who can alter their system to deal with opponents. Their defensive triangle is solid. They don’t try to win the ball back high up the pitch, but try to break quickly with their two quick players up front.