The stage was set, one of the most scenic cities in Europe was set for the final game of the UEFA European Championships 2016. A tournament which was a first of its kind given the expansion in the number of teams participating and the new format which was being used for the first time. Portugal and France were the two finalists who in their own unique ways had conquered their opponents match by match. The game was a nervy affair with a lot twists and a few heartbreaks along the way the game fell in favour of the Portuguese side after a long distance strike from Portuguese striker Eder in the 109th minute of extra time, a solitary goal in a game which was pretty much one-way traffic all along. Here’s a review of how things panned out in the final game of the tournament:
The game began with the French team dominating a lot of the ball and creating plenty to chances to score early and to possibly take the lead in the all important clash. But inspite of all the possession the attacking trio of Oliver Giroud, Antoine Greizmann and Dmitri Payet failed to breakdown a Portuguese defense which was welcoming back it’s defensive star in Pepe after injury. Moussa Sissoko was perhaps the best French player on the pitch, using his physical strength to good effect and dribbling well to get into the final third on plenty of occasions. Right before half time French striker Antoine Greizmann had a great chance to head past the Portuguese keeper but to both his and his nation’s disappointment his fluffed it over the bar. This loop of creating and missing chances turned out to be the pattern of the game for the French as they continued to have the ball and struggled really to make a lot out of it.
It was arguably his biggest night in terms of his years with the national side, not just him but fans from all over the World who’d been waiting for this very moment. But the night was not to go as planned, Ronaldo was the recipient of a hard tackle from France’s Dmitri Payet early in the Portuguese’s knee, a part of his body that has constantly threatened the talisman’s career. Ronaldo went off initially and returned to the pitch minutes later to once again go off finally in the 25th minutes of the games. The fact that he would no longer play any part in the game was heartbreaking for the Portuguese captain which was evident from his body-language and emotions as passed on his captain’s arm-band to fellow forward Nani. Ronaldo left th pitch on a stretcher and as replaced by Quaresma.
3.Portugal’s solid defence:
If there’s anything about this Portugal side that hasn’t been patchy has been their defence in the tournament. Some experienced centre backs paired alongside some young wingbacks, meant that Portugal had the perfect foil in their own final third as they once again proved that to be. Portugal’s defenders stood firm amidst the waves of French attacks.Pepe who was the man of the match in the finals along with the keeper of the tournament Rui Patricio formed some sort of an unbreakable wall as they frustrated the home side and created the perfect base for a win on the night.
Eder came on the pitch replacing the young superstar Renato Sanches from Portugal in 79th minute. Eder’s inclusion led to a change in the formation for the Portuguese who moved from a 4-4-2 formation to a more offensive formation in 4-3-3. Eder’s presence meant that the French defenders had a central figure to deal with which helped get the wingers Nani and Quaresma get more spaces on the flanks. As time went by and the French defenders got tired, Eder’s impact on the game increased it by bit. This was evident when Eder got away from Laurent Koscielny with relative ease before taking a long shot from about 25 yards out, beating the French captain Hugo Lloris in the goal at the far post going on to score what was the only goal in high pressure game. France tried hard in the final moments of the game but it was just not to be for the French as Portugal went to win their first ever international tournament in the history of the game.
5.Ronaldo’s golden year perhaps??
This has been perhaps the most important year in Cristiano Ronaldo’s Footballing career. Having won his third UEFA Champions League title in May this year, Ronaldo has now gone on to achieve something that he would rate at the top of the pile. Not to forget that just weeks ago Ronaldo’s Argentine counterpart Lionel Messi missed out on the chance to win his side the American continental trophy, contrastingly Ronaldo now has his hands on his continental trophy which by reports has given him the lead over the Argentine in the competition for the best player in the World trophy. With a couple more trophies up for grabs Ronaldo would look to continue on his merry ways and would look to stamp his authority on the year on the whole.
Pic Credit: Wiki