So here we are, almost exactly 1 month after Euro 2016 started, with Portugal and France fighting it out for the coveted trophy. Portugal have to consider themselves lucky to be here and I'm not sure many people will have thought that they could get this far pre-tournament. France on the other hand were the bookies favourite to win these championships before it all kicked off so they could be viewed as just matching expectations.
Ok, I am being harsh on France as they have been magnificent in the quarter finals and semi finals, dispatching Iceland and World Champions Germany. The Germany game was a brilliant example of one team taking their chances and the other team not. Germany had most of the ball and were pressing really well, they had France on the ropes for long periods of the game however, as predicted in the previous preview, they failed to make it count and were hit by a Griezmann double to send them home. France were excellent, they stuck to their task and frustrated Germany but also took their chances when they presented themselves. In Antoine Griezmann, they have a man who can score all type of goals at any point in the game, he also only needs 1 chance to score so you know you only really need to create 1 chance for him which gives players a lift and midfielder's the confidence to play him in. If France can bring the domination of the Iceland game mixed with the professionalism of the Germany game, then they will be winning their 3rd major international tournament as the host nation.
Portugal have had a strange journey to the final but will feel that they can take the extra step and become European Champions. They hadn't beaten a team in 90 minutes before they dispatched Wales 2-0 in the last game so it's almost a miracle that they have made it this far. I've said this a lot over the course of the tournament but they always seem to pull it out of the bag or get a massive slice of luck that they don't deserve and win the game, can they do that 1 more time? It honestly would not shock me if they did. Also is this the game where Cristiano Ronaldo finally wins an International trophy? Diego Maradona famously said that Messi would never be a legend unless he won a trophy at International level, does the same apply to Ronaldo? I actually think at 31 years old, this is his only chance to do it with Portugal, and with the amount of determination and effort he puts in on the training ground and the pitch - he could well be the deciding factor in this game and take his chance.
Sorry Cristiano but I think France will win this game. France have been excellent over the past 2 games and could run riot against a poor Portugal side. Ronaldo was in great form against Wales but he has struggled this tournament and Portugal as a whole have not been great. France to win.
What makes this an outside punt is that France will be clear favourites and should win this game. Portugal have a great chance to nick it in the 90 minutes however, if they manage to keep it level until extra time, Portugal will get tired and France will be expected to take advantage of that. It would be a turn up for the books if Portugal completed a sensational smash and grab to get over the loss in Euro 2004 to Greece.
France are scoring goals quite freely especially Antoine Griezmann. Don't be surprised to see him score a couple more goals in this game to send France into a state of celebration. Portugal are likely to score but France should prove too much for them.
I know this is a final and anything can happen, but France are by far the better team and are in better form than Portugal, plus they have the home crowd cheering them on. France should win both halves, stranger things have happened that Portugal winning both but I think the trophy has France's name on it.
I backed him in the Germany game to break the deadlock and I'm backing him again. He is such a brilliant striker, Atletico will be overjoyed that he signed a new deal last week because he is a very special talent. I expect Griezmann to score the first goal and ensure that he will be ending the tournament with the Golden Boot.
I've backed this for the last 3 games and it has come up twice. There are so many penalties given in these Championships its not even funny anymore. The referees can't wait to give them, and I can't wait to collect my money off the bookies for backing it yet again. With players like Ronaldo and Griezmann on the pitch you're never too far away from a dodgy foul in the box from someone like Pepe.