France Favored at Home in Euro Final
By Charles Jay
There is still a lot of healing taking place in France, and it is perhaps fitting that the city that was haunted by terrorist attacks back in November might be the site for some of that healing to occur. Back in November, a large crowd listened as explosions went off outside the Stade de France, and no one really knew what was going on.
There was a game underway that evening, and the fact that French side scored a 2-0 victory over the defending World Cup champions from Germany seemed to get drowned out.
Well, France posted another 2-0 win over the Germans in the semi-final game, setting up this encounter for the Euro 2016 title, and the big challenge for Portugal is multi-varied, as they must not only contend with the very passionate home crowd, but also with a furious scoring attack that is threatening the all-time record for goals in this tournament.
Which team will lift the trophy in the end? Well, America’s Bookie lists the odds like this:
France to win -220
Portugal to win +170
As far as the odds for regulation time only (not including extra time or penalty kicks), France looks like a solid favorite:
Over 2 Goals +100
Under 2 Goals -120
Portugal got here directly by way of a 2-0 win over Wales, in which Christiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid superstar, put in a header that was beyond belief. The approach on the part of Fernando Santos’ team has been to employ a tight defense and hope that people like Ronaldo and Nani can capitalize on opportunities.
The Portuguese do not leave a lot of room to breathe for themselves – in fact, after losing the first game in qualifying to Albania, they had seven straight wins, but all of them were by a single goal. And then until the game with Wales, their only regulation-time victory came by one goal against Croatia. So needless to say, it is very important for coach Fernando Santos that he have Pepe available for the back line, as he comes back from a thigh injury that sidelined him against Wales. There is also the possibility that midfielder William Carvalho, who was suspended for the last game, will be re-inserted into the lineup.
With France, there is a lot to worry about. They have had a few multiple-goal scorers in this tourney, and aside from Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet, there is the magnificence of Antoine Griezmann, who appears on his way to capturing the Golden Boot, as his two goals against Germany brought him to a total of six for the entire event. The defensive assignment for Portugal also must include a way to minimize the all-around effect of another splendid performer in Paul Pogba (pictured above). So what will they do?
Well, they will have to count on the leadership of Ronaldo, for one thing. The Real Madrid star, who is one of the two most expensive players in the world (Gareth Bale, his club teammate, is the other) is someone who is still grace personified out there, but he is giving way to teammates a bit more, and one of those is the 18-year-old wunderkind, Renato Sanches, who scored the goal that tied the quarter-final game with Poland and eventually forced penalty kicks. If it is going to be a team effort, the other Portuguese attackers are going to have to be a threat.
France is said to have a lot of momentum, and they have some historical basis to feel secure – that is, if you believe in such things. They have won ten straight matches over the Portuguese side, with the last losing effort on their part in 1975. And Les Bleus is also 16-0 with two draws in its last 18 games at “home” in major tournaments (like the World Cup and the Euro).
Yes, it could be fate, and we are not sure we want to tempt it all that much. So we will take the best price we can find on the French, which is even money to win in regulation time, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues on Sunday.
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