At 1.456* at the time of writing, France are clear favourites to win Euro 2016, thanks to some increasingly confident performances on home soil, whilst Portugal are perhaps fortunate to have made it this far. They failed to win a single match in 90 minutes across the tournament until the 2-0 win over Wales on Wednesday night and are yet to play any of the traditional “big” nations.
However, the French players are more likely to be burnt out after a defensive slog against Germany and, with a day less to prepare, this could hand Portugal a slight advantage, especially in the 90 minutes markets, where France is only favoured at 2.03* to win.
Which French formation does Portugal fear the most?
France’s flat 4-4-2 formation was not particularly effective for large portions of the semi-final against Germany. The main issue was that France were simply too light in central midfield. Whilst Dimitri Payet and Moussa Sissoko were forced to stay wide because of Germany’s persistent use of high full-backs, Antoine Griezmann did not drop deeper when his side were out of possession.
Portugal failed to win a single match in 90 minutes across the tournament until the 2-0 win over Wales, which adds value to -0.5 and +0.5 handicap markets.
With bodies in the wrong areas and formation lines too flat to track the Germans’ movement, France dropped deeper and deeper. They cannot afford to play in such an awkward manner again.
Should N’Golo Kante be restored to the starting line-up, Portugal will have a hard time. France have won all eight games in which Kante has featured, and this is no coincidence. His remarkable tackling and intercepting are punctuated by perfect defensive positioning, and he could be picked as part of a three man midfield.
Portugal's lack of traditional centre-forward: A blessing or a curse?
The reason for this is that Portugal are very strong when given opportunities to surge through the centre of the pitch. Renato Sanches looked very good against Wales and will almost certainly dominate central midfield should Deschamps continue with a 4-4-2 formation.
And then, of course, there’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal’s own version of 4-4-2 (or 4-2-2-2) is narrower than France’s and crucially does not include a natural striker. Nani and Ronaldo both hover around the front end of the pitch, but neither makes the sort of runs you would expect of a traditional centre-forward.
This has proved both a help and a hindrance to Portugal. Whilst it has clearly contributed to their stodgy and disjointed play in the final third, the unusual interplay of these two players can make them very difficult to track.
Finding value bets
For France, Samuel Umtiti has had an exceptional tournament and is likely to deal with Ronaldo’s and Nani’s unusual movement with aplomb. Dimitri Payet and Griezmann combining in the centre-left zone is where Portugal should be most concerned in open play, but it is set-pieces that pose the greatest threat. France have scored four set-piece goals this summer and five headers – more than any other nation.
For Portugal, crosses into the box have been their most effective source of goals. Their average of 30 per match is the highest at Euro 2016, and with Ronaldo in the box these deliveries are always dangerous. This could become a crucial feature of the match given that France’s biggest vulnerability is their ageing full-backs.
See the latest Euro 2016 odds, including correct score, Asian handicap goals spread, clean sheet wins and much more under the left-hand side menu Bet Options/Specials!
See the latest Euro 2016 odds, including including correct score, Asian handicap goals spread, clean sheet wins and much more under the left-hand side menu Specials!