Portugal-France summit awaited with memories of Euro 2016

The French and Portuguese national teams are looking forward to taking a new step towards competing for the European Nations Cup (Euro 2024) title in Germany, when the two teams meet tomorrow, Friday, in the quarter-finals of the continental tournament.

The two teams managed to reach the quarter-finals, but without presenting performances befitting two of the strongest candidates to win the title.

Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa played a pivotal role in Portugal’s qualification to the quarter-finals after his brilliant penalty shootout against Slovenia, after Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty in extra time of the match, and he was left in tears afterwards, but he corrected his mistake and successfully executed the first penalty kick for his country.

As for the French national team, it booked its place in the European quarter-finals with an own goal scored by Jan Vertonghen five minutes before the end of the match against Belgium.

This will be the first meeting between France and Portugal since Euro 2020, when the teams drew 2-2 and three of the four goals came from penalties at the Puskas Arena. It will also be a repeat of their Euro 2016 final, when Portugal won 1-0 in Paris to claim the continental title.

This will be the fifth meeting between Portugal and France in the Euros, with Portugal unbeaten in the last two, with France winning the first two matches 3-2 and 2-1 on their way to winning the continental title in 1984 and 2000. Therefore, winning this match will give the Roosters the advantage in the direct confrontations, and it may also pave the way for winning the Euro title again.

Portugal have failed to score in their last two Euro matches, and have never failed to score in three consecutive matches at a major tournament. Les Bleus are suffering from the same dilemma, with two of their three goals so far at Euro 2024 coming from own goal, while captain Kylian Mbappe has scored from the penalty spot.

It has been more than 11 years since France players managed to score from open play in four consecutive matches, specifically since 2013 when the team failed to score from open play in five international matches between March and September.

Didier Deschamps’ team has a big advantage over its Portuguese counterpart, having lost to it only once in 14 matches, compared to 11 wins and two draws, but this loss was costly as it came in the Euro 2016 final.

But coach Roberto Martinez’s team is keen to overcome the Roosters and chase the dream of winning the second continental title.

The teams that eliminated France in the quarter-finals of major tournaments were able to ascend to the podium in the end, as happened with Italy in the 1938 World Cup, Greece in Euro 2004, Spain in Euro 2012 and Germany in the 2014 World Cup.

Martinez will be required to determine the fate of Ronaldo, Al-Nassr’s top scorer, in the match against France, whether to include him from the start or to send him off the bench.

During the match against Slovenia, Ronaldo, the five-time World Player of the Year, took eight shots, including four on goal, and touched the ball inside the opponent’s penalty area seven times, but so far he has not found the net in his country’s four matches in the tournament, despite being the player with the most shots among all his peers, with a total of 20 shots.

For its part, the French team took 19 shots during the match against Belgium, including only two shots on goal, but in the end they qualified for the quarter-finals by a stroke of luck.

Mbappe had five shots against Belgium, compared to four for Marcus Thuram and two for Antoine Griezmann, but only one went between the posts.

The defence remains the French team’s strong point so far, as Les Bleus have kept clean sheets in three of their first four matches, the strongest defence in the continental tournament so far.

Foxpark Stadium will witness a special confrontation between Mbappe, the new star of Real Madrid, and the former legendary star of the royal club, Ronaldo.

Ronaldo is looking forward to leading his country to compete strongly for the title in his last participation in the continental championship, as he confirmed after the match against Slovenia that “without a doubt, this will be my last participation in the European Nations Cup.”

Ronaldo is an inspiration to Mbappe, as he used to hang his pictures on the wall of his bedroom when he was a child. In 2020, he confirmed via his account on the X platform that Ronaldo is his role model. A picture of Ronaldo in the Real Madrid stadium in 2012, with Mbappe standing next to him when he was 13 years old, also spread widely.

Ronaldo, 39, commented on the confrontation with Mbappe and his teammates, saying, “Let’s go… let’s go to war.”

The Saudi Al-Nassr star confirmed that the first source of enthusiasm for him now is “making people happy. This is what drives me, my enthusiasm during matches, the enthusiasm of seeing my fans and my family and the influence people have on me.”

Ronaldo enters the France match after failing to score in eight consecutive matches in major tournaments, including four matches in the Qatar 2022 World Cup and four matches in the Euro.

As for Mbappe, who suffered a broken nose, which greatly affected him in the tournament, he managed to score once from a penalty kick against Poland, becoming the only player in the French ranks to succeed in scoring against opponents in Euro 2024.

Mbappe has scored 48 goals so far for France at the age of 25, and has also scored 48 goals in 73 Champions League matches. He is trying hard to match and perhaps surpass the records of the legend Ronaldo, who scored 130 goals at the international level and 140 goals in the Champions League.

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