We have our finalists.
Portugal will face France for the title of European Champions, The contest will take place on Sunday in the magnificent Stade de France located just north of Paris.
The Semi Finals were always likely to be filled with tension and fear of defeat so close to the ultimate prize. All four nations however should have glided onto the pitch with belief in their ability, yet early on it appeared they were all riddled with self doubt.
Ultimately there were deserved winners in both ties.
In Lyon on Wednesday history was made…
Wales were in their 1st ever Semi Final of a major competition and faced a Portugal side looking to extend an impressive recent record in this competition (2 Semi’s and 1 Final in the last 4 Euro’s)
A dream was dashed with a bullet Cristiano header and a prod of Nani’s boot. Both goals coming in the space of just 3 minutes in the 2nd half gave the Welsh an uphill task they were never likely to complete. Ronaldo’s goal moved him joint-top of the competitions’ all time scorer chart, a position shared with the now disgraced Michel Platini who had also found the back of the net on 9 occasions.
Coleman’s men can travel back to Cardiff with their heads held high at their achievements as attentions quickly turn to towards Russia 2018. You get the feeling that Portugal’s tournament experience gave them that extra edge when it mattered on the night.
So who would Portugal face in Sunday’s showpiece?
A matchup which divided opinions saw the host nation run out comfortable and deserved winners. The World Champions headed home after a night where they struggled to find a killer touch, a familiar story since the start of the campaign if truth be told. I wouldn’t imagine anyone predicted Bayern’s Muller not scoring for a country always likely to contest the latter stages.
It was another night for Antoine Griezmann. The little magician who was rejected by many clubs in France as a teen due to his height is now the icon of the nation, 6 goals so far for the Atletico Madrid man.
A disputable penalty decision initially caused confusion before the referee made his decision clear at the end of a 1st half dominated by German possession. Schweinsteiger was a yard off when Evra connected with a header but it appeared more ball to hand than deliberate handball. That made no difference to Griezmann who calmly slotted the ball past Neuer for a lead at the break. Although Germany pressed for an equaliser Les Bleus always appeared comfortable and when their No 7 produced a neat, yet difficult finish for 2-0 it was game over. Substitutions were made both offensive and defensive in attempts to change the game but it was too far beyond the reach of Low’s men.
And so onto the Final of Euro 2016…
France will be overwhelming favourites, they have scored goals and unlike Portugal have actually won numerous games of football!
They will be at home, have the majority of support within the stadium and they have a team full of players on top form.
Portugal will once again be heavy reliant on the performances of Ronaldo and Nani who are capable of turning a game with a moment of magic but we just can’t see past the hosts.
Euro 2016 has provided us with so many stories and we believe it would be a fitting end to see France skipper Hugo Lloris lift the trophy at the weekend.
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