Portugal v France
Monday July 11, 5am
The last four major international finals, the 2016 Copa America, 2015 Copa, 2015 African Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup, have all finished goalless. The last Euros final saw Spain win 4-0 but otherwise you have to go back to 1980 to find the last Euro final with more than two goals and it would be a huge surprise if that trend changes here.
Portugal were the last hosts to make the finals at the Euros, where they were upset by Greece, and while that is just one of two defeats for hosts in 25 major international finals since 1970, seven of the last 16 have finished level after 90 minutes. Another draw could be on the cards here given Portugal have finished all-square after 90 minutes in five of their six matches. Furthermore, 11 of their last 12 matches against teams ranked in our top 35 have been level at half-time, with 11 also having fewer than three goals and nine having fewer than two.
France’s win over the World Champions, who we also rank as number one in the world, was certainly impressive but 12 teams since 1970 have reached a major final having beaten one of the top-two sides in our rankings in the semis and they’ve gone just W3-D4-L5 when it really mattered.
They were outplayed for much of that semi-final but had all the best chances and by the end were deserving winners. This will be a very different challenge, however, as they won’t be given so many opportunities to counter-attack and a home win is far from guaranteed.
They’ve often been happy to sit back and play relatively conservatively for much of this competition, particularly early on in matches, and aside from the thrashing of Iceland their only first half goal was the questionable penalty in the semi-final with the last kick of the opening half. In their last 12 matches against top-20 ranked teams eight have had fewer than three goals as they’ve gone W6-D2-L4 and in the high pressure environment of a major final we’d expect the number of goals to go down.
France will obviously start as clear favourites but the low scoring nature of major finals added to Portugal’s defensive approach means that the half-time draw and full-time draws both appeal, as do the under-goals prices.
BACK – Half-Time Draw at 2.0