France and Portugal clash in Paris to decide which nation will be crowned champions of Europe (8pm Sunday live on BBC1 & ITV1). Here is our Euro 2016 Final preview with betting tips.
France booked their place in the final with a 2-0 victory over Germany at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Thursday night. World champions Germany may have lost some key players to injury in the build-up to the match, but they remain one of the strongest teams on the planet. So it was a fine result against stellar opposition and will have provided France with a massive boost of confidence ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
Didier Deschamps’ charges were hanging on at times in the first half, but although Germany dominated possession they struggled to create clear-cut scoring chances. A goal against the run of play on the stroke of half-time – Antoine Griezmann confidently converted from the penalty spot after Bastian Schweinsteiger’s baffling handball – gave Les Bleus an invaluable lead, with France then able to sit back and counter-attack even more in the second period. Their self-belief and conviction grew, too, and in the end they deserved their triumph after fashioning the better opportunities after the break.
Portugal, meanwhile, made it through to the final with a 2-0 win over surprise-package Wales in their semi-final tie. Fernando Santos’ men began the game cautiously, refusing to press their opponents high up the pitch and instead sinking back into a well-organised defensive shape inside their own half of the field, before scoring twice in quick succession at the start of the second period. From there, Portugal handled the match perfectly, sitting deep and cutting off space for Wales both in behind their backline and in between the lines of midfield and defences while also retaining a threat on the counter-attack.
Portugal have not really produced any dazzling football in the knockout stage, but their formula of keeping things tight at the back and relying on a handful of match-winning moments up top has worked. Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured) has exemplified their strategy: the Real Madrid talisman has been rather quiet in open play, preferring to hang around in the penalty area than get involved in the build-up play. He has still delivered a number of decisive moments that have set Portugal on the path to victory, whether by scoring himself or setting up others.
Deschamps has something of a selection dilemma ahead of the weekend’s showpiece, with N’Golo Kante pushing for a return to the starting XI. The Leicester midfielder would certainly make France harder to play through in central areas, but bringing him back into the fold would likely lead to Griezmann being shifted back out wide after his superb recent showings in a second striker role behind Olivier Giroud.
For Portugal, William Carvalho is likely to replace Danilo at the base of the midfield now that he has served his suspension, with centre-back Pepe also set to be restored to the line-up in place of Bruno Alves.
Our Preview’s Euro 2016 Final Betting Tips
France are rated strong favourites by the bookmakers for this clash and should be good enough to overcome Portugal in what looks like being a tight and low-scoring encounter. Deschamps’ men possess a touch more creativity and invention in the final third. In Dimitri Payet, Griezmann and Paul Pogba they have a handful of players who are capable of producing a moment of magic from nothing.
As for this preview’s betting tips, Griezmann is probably the best choice in the first goalscorer market, while a 1-0 France victory could be the wager worth backing when it comes to predicting the correct score margin. Just as they did at Euro 1984 and World Cup 1998, France should have enough to claim the Euro 2016 trophy on home soil.