Ahead of the 2016 European Championship final, France and Portugal UAE-based fans give their verdict on the game.
To gain an insight into the mindset of the fans we asked UAE fans to share with us their predictions, likely line-ups and players to watch.
Do you agree or have they missed the mark?
FRANCE – Yves Thapele (E-commerce manager, Dubai)
Football truly is a powerful and magical sport. What a joy it has been to see the happiness that Les Bleus have brought to the faces of the French public. Yes, we didn’t play particularly well against Germany. But do we care? No! We are in the final and that is all that matters. We are not bothered about how we win this tournament, just that Hugo Lloris is lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy on Sunday night, as his coach Didier Deschamps did 16 years ago.
Today, France believes that European Championship glory will be ours. We love this team because they have given us a wonderful ride during the tournament and there have been some wonderful performances throughout the team. Hugo Lloris, Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann – these are the heroes for a new generation of French fans.
There is a feeling now that this Bleu wave is unstoppable. Germany was our hardest test but we passed it. We beat the world champions! Our coach is a winner, too. He won the 1998 World Cup and he won Euro 2000 – now he will win Euro 2016 as a coach.
In November 2015, France was at a low ebb after the terrorist attacks on Paris. I saw my countrymen crying. Now, we have a chance to cry together again, but this time they will be tears of joy. As I said, football is a magical thing, and it has united France again.
Allez Les Bleus.
PREDICTION: France 3-1 Portugal
LIKELY XI: Hugo Lloris; Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Samuel Umtiti, Patrice Evra; Moussa Sissokho, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi; Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet
FRANCE PLAYER TO WATCH: Antoine Griezmann – Has emerged as the star of this tournament and unless Cristiano Ronaldo manages to score a hat-trick, he will be walking away as the Euro 2016 top scorer, and probably its best player too. His pace, his finishing, his composure – Griezmann has truly proven himself world class.
PORTUGAL PLAYER TO WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo – He is the world’s best player and he showed in the semi-final that you can never write him off. He had a terrible first-half against Wales but then came out and scored a header with so much hang time that Michael Jordan would have been proud. France must watch him in the air and on the ground, he is a real superstar.
WHERE TO WATCH THE GAME: Barasti will be rocking!
PORTUGAL – Francisco Alves (Architect, Dubai)
Whenever France host a major national football tournament, they usually end up winning – as evidenced by both Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup. At the World Cup, France didn’t kick-off as well as expected and they even faced a fair share a criticism from the media and their own supporters, but step-by-step they managed to gradually improve their performances throughout the knockout stages, eventually winning the final in a flawless match against Brazil.
Likewise, 18 years later, Portugal’s arrival to a place in the final has been considered by many (especially the anti-Ronaldo brigade) as ‘unfair’ and ‘unworthy’, but the fact that we’ve managed to overcome every challenge with immunity to not only outside criticism but also some internal skepticism has made us stronger.
Let’s face it, taking on the hosts in the final at their national stadium are pretty much the worst circumstances possible. Not only can France boast a powerfully balanced set of players, but also the unity of the French supporters behind Les Bleus will be a colossal challenge for Portugal to overcome. Looking back to the the historic record between both nations shows us that France has a head start. I still remember how Portugal were knocked-out by France at Euro 2000 and the 2006 World Cup.
Fernando Santos has his full squad available and both Pepe and William Carvalho should return to the starting line-up to ensure an even more defensively composed side. After the semi-final victory, Ronaldo said “we shall dream about winning the title, while it is still free to do so”, and the vision of lifting the trophy should bring all the necessary motivation for Portugal to win this final in heroic fashion.
PREDICTION: France 1-2 Portugal (aet)
LIKELY PORTUGAL XI: Rui Patricio; Cedric Soares, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro; William Carvalho, Adrien Silva, Renato Sanches, Joao Mario; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo
PORTUGAL PLAYER TO WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo – He will be carrying the pressure of 11 million Portuguese dreams on his shoulders, but great players are made for great challenges and Ronaldo has proven before to be fired up when decisive matches like this come along. The Real Madrid star has broken almost every individual record put before him and can create history in the final – by being the first Portuguese captain to lift a major trophy above his head.
FRANCE PLAYER TO FEAR: Antoine Griezmann – No matter the outcome of today’s match, Griezmann is already the strongest contender to be win the Euro 2016 Golden Ball. He had a terrific season with Atletico Madrid and his performances for France have confirmed him as one of the most lethal forwards in football today. Everyone was expecting this to be Paul Pogba’s tournament, but Griezmann’s six goals in six matches have seen him steal the limelight.
WHERE TO WATCH THE GAME: Barasti Beach Bar
The 2016 European Championships is now set for a thrilling final between France and Germany, and Sport360 looks back at the best performers who helped their countries get through the semi-final phase of the competition.
Here are the players voted by you using valorafutbol.com‘s ranking system who made the best XI.
GOALKEEPER: HUGO LLORIS – FRANCE
The French captain gets the nod after some fine saves at important times, with the fact he has led his country to the final edging him ahead of Manuel Neuer, Michael McGovern and Lukasz Fabianski to the spot in goal.
DEFENDER: RAPHAEL GUERREIRO – PORTUGAL
The Borussia Dortmund left-back has been in inspired form at Euro 2016. His perfectly weighed cross for Ronaldo’s opening goal put the icing on the cake to another sterling display.
DEFENDER: LAURENT KOSCIELNY – FRANCE
Had a busy night with the continuous foray of German attacks, but the Arsenal man dealt with everything effectively and cleverly marshalled Thomas Muller – who surprisingly bowed out of the tournament without a goal.
DEFENDER: CEDRIC SOARES – FRANCE
The Southampton man was solid if unspectacular, but his most telling contribution was containing the impact of Wales’ Neil Taylor down the left.
DEFENDER: JOSE FONTE – PORTUGAL
Looked comfortable in possession and made a vital clearance to stop Andy King’s attempted header on goal.
MIDFIELDER: TONI KROOS – GERMANY
The 26-year-old is one of the best midfielders in Europe, with his mixture of incredible passing range and equally-impressive vision. Dictated proceedings for Germany but was unable to prevent his country bowing out to hosts France in the semi-finals.
MIDFIELDER: PAUL POGBA – FRANCE
Another solid performance from Pogba as he teed up Antoine Griezmann for France’s second goal. Although not at his best, he will be a central figure when Les Bleus step out against Portugal in the final.
MIDFIELDER: ADRIEN SILVA – PORTUGAL
Showed his class again with a hard-working display around the middle. The Sporting Lisbon man never looks out of comfort on the ball and offers Nani, Ronaldo and Renato Sanches plenty of balance.
MIDFIELDER: NANI – PORTUGAL
The former Manchester United player continues to enjoy a solid tournament and made a vital contribution against Wales with a neat finish to make it 2-0. He’ll need to be at his best if the Portuguese are to outclass France in Sunday’s decider.
MIDFIELDER: DANILO – PORTUGAL
He took a while to get used to the tempo of the game but came close to scoring Portugal’s third goal. Ferocious in the tackle, he stepped up strongly in William Carvalho’s absence.
STRIKER: ANTOINE GRIEZMANN – FRANCE
Following a fine season with Atletico Madrid, it should perhaps come as little surprise to see Griezmann shining so brightly for the home nation.
A fine finisher and intelligent in possession, the 25-year-old’s brace against Germany saw the home nation into the final, taking his tally to six for the tournament.
The Euro 2016 is now at its final stage, France and Portugal having confirmed their places as the tournament approaches its conclusion.
Previously, YOU the fans voted Radja Nainggolan’s screamer the goal of the quarter-finals with a whopping 64% of the votes.
And here, we look at four of the best goals to be scored in the semi-finals and ask YOU to vote for your favourite at the bottom of the page.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (PORTUGAL vs Wales)
Cristiano Ronaldo made European Championship history as Portugal ended Wales’s extraordinary Euro 2016 journey with victory on Wednesday.
In what was billed as a shootout between Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, it was the Portugal captain who prevailed, opening the scoring in Lyon with a majestic 50th-minute header that saw him tie France great Michel Platini’s record of nine goals at the Euro finals.
NANI (PORTUGAL vs Wales)
The former Manchester United player continues to enjoy a solid tournament and made a vital contribution against Wales with a neat finish after Ronaldo miscued the initial effort.
ANTOINE GRIEZMANN (FRANCE vs Germany)
Two goals from Antoine Griezmann propelled France into the final of Euro 2016 with a 2-0 win over world champions Germany.
France will now play Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in Paris on Sunday.
Griezmann scored a hotly contested penalty in first-half injury time after Bastian Schweinsteiger was adjudged to have handled.
With eighteen minutes remaining, the Atletico Madrid striker put the result beyond doubt with a sweetly struck second half shot.