France booked their place in the Euro 2016 final after beating Germany in Thursday’s semi-final clash at the Stade Velodrome, and manager Didier Deschamps was delighted with his players for finally winning against Germany in a knockout clash.
“There is quality in this German team. And when they don’t have the ball it gets even more complicated. We had the best team in the world opposite us. We had to suffer but never gave up and that’s great for me. This is a great story – the players wrote history by knocking out Germany,” he said.
France have limited time before Sunday’s final against Portugal at the Stade de France, losing one day’s preparation compared to their opposition, but Deschamps has a strong squad more than capable. The likes of N’Kolo Kante can come into the midfield if there’s fatigue from others, while Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial are further attacking options.
“We have three days before the final, it’s very short so we have to savour this victory. It’s an important step forward but the most important step is Sunday. We’re going to do everything in our power to go in to Sunday’s game in the best possible condition,” added the France manager. France go into the final as favourites given their squad and home advantage, especially after dispatching of the World champions.
It had been 58 years since France beat Germany in a knockout game, but France defender Patrice Evra believes a friendly victory in November last year helped Les Blues to believe. “As soon as we beat them in a friendly, it gave us a lift. Of course they were strong, of course they were the favourites and they had good ball possession. But we told each other we would never give up. And that’s why I’m proud of my teammates,” he said.
No side had scored past Germany in open play until the semi-final, and given their trio of attackers have scored and created 18 goals between them in the tournament, Portugal will be fearful. They haven’t been too full of goals themselves so their plan will be to try and stifle France by not leaving many gaps to be exploited. France have pace and power and the ruthless finishing in the final third hurt any team, so Portugal could find themselves blown away if not careful.
France’s front three Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet have all scored three of more goals in the tournament. Portugal’s duo Luis Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo the same. As a result, their final on the weekend should be a good contest.