MX23RW : Sunday, August 1 04:09:37| >> :600:2051085:2051085:
Jun 23, 2021 at 8pm UK at Puskás Aréna
Ronaldo (31' pen., 60' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-1)
Benzema (45+2' pen., 47')
Lloris (27'), Hernandez (36'), Griezmann (40'), Kimpembe (83')

Preview: Portugal vs. France - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's European Championship clash between Portugal and France, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Five years after doing battle on the biggest continental stage of them all, reigning European champions Portugal renew hostilities with 2016 runners-up France for their final game of Euro 2020 Group F on Wednesday.

Les Bleus remain at the top of the rankings despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Hungary on matchday two, while Portugal currently find themselves outside of the top two after a thrilling 4-2 defeat to Germany.

Match preview

Portugal manager Fernando Santos on June 15, 2021© Reuters

Four days after a record-breaking performance saw him become the highest goalscorer in European Championship history, Cristiano Ronaldo was up to his usual tricks with another goal and assist against Germany, but the five-time Ballon d'Or winner had little to cheer come the final whistle on Saturday.

Two own goals in the space of four minutes from Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro saw Portugal head into the half-time interval 2-1 down, and Germany would proceed to add a further two strikes through Kai Havertz and Robin Gosens before Diogo Jota restored some parity, but it was too little too late for Fernando Santos's side to launch a storming comeback.

As was the case in 2016, the reigning European champions now find themselves fighting to make one of the top two spots before the final matchday in the group of death, and if results do not go their way, Santos will have to hold on the hope that his side can progress as one of the best third-placed outfits.

It is worth remembering that Portugal failed to win any of their group matches en route to Euro 2016 glory, and a 3-0 thrashing of Hungary - albeit with all three goals coming in the dying embers - was an indication of what the champions are capable of, but Santos's side became the first Euros champions in history to concede four goals in one match last time out.

Portugal have never failed to make it out of the group stage during their previous seven appearances at the European Championships, but their fate remains in their own hands as they prepare to meet one of Ronaldo's least favoured opponents, notwithstanding his short-lived Euro 2016 final outing.

France head coach Didier Deschamps pictured on June 8, 2021© Reuters

Ronaldo has faced France six times without making the net ripple, but one man who did manage to breach Les Bleus' defence was Hungary's Attila Fiola, who raced free and poked home at the near post to send the Puskas Arena crowd into delirium.

Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann were all guilty of some wasteful finishing on the day, but the latter would rescue a point for Les Bleus with a 66th-minute equaliser, although that 1-1 draw felt much more like a win for Hungary and their stadium full of jubilant supporters.

Failure to keep their winning run going against a team that was widely expected to be the group's whipping boys was a shock to say the least, but with four points gleaned from two matches, France remain at the top of Group F and will progress in first place with victory on Wednesday.

Didier Deschamps was surprisingly upbeat after matchday two as he paid tribute to Hungary for their "wonderful" performance on the day, but one cannot expect the World Cup-winning manager to act so graciously if his side fall short against Portugal, although Les Bleus are guaranteed to finish at least third in the group.

Portugal and France are locking horns five years after Eder's effort propelled Santos's side to Euro 2016 glory in the final, but Les Bleus gained a measure of revenge with a 1-0 Nations League win over the holders in November 2020, during which N'Golo Kante scored the winner.

Portugal European Championship form:
  • W
  • L

Portugal form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

France European Championship form:
  • W
  • D

France form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Team News

France's players celebrate after Germany's Mats Hummels scores an own goal at Euro 2020 on June 15, 2021© Reuters

Portugal continue to cope without Nuno Mendes (thigh), with the teenager's absence guaranteeing another start for Guerreiro at left-back despite his unfortunate own goal against Germany, but Joao Felix has shaken off discomfort in the same area and should be in contention.

Manager Santos has refused to rule out changes to his starting lineup following their reality check on matchday two, with Rafa Silva and Renato Sanches the most likely candidates to benefit from some rotation.

As mentioned, Ronaldo has never scored against France, but breaking that duck here would see him net his 20th goal at a World Cup or Euros - surpassing Miroslav Klose and breaking yet another record in an illustrious career.

France introduced Ousmane Dembele 57 minutes in against Hungary, but the Barcelona attacker had to be withdrawn after suffering a knee injury and will now miss the remainder of the tournament.

Deschamps has no other injury or fitness concerns to work around, as Benjamin Pavard was controversially cleared to play against Hungary following his head injury in the opening-day success over Germany.

Lucas Hernandez should return at left-back after Lucas Digne was surprisingly given the nod last time out, and recent reports have claimed that Pavard and Adrien Rabiot could be at risk of losing their places as Jules Kounde and Corentin Tolisso push for starts.

Portugal possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Semedo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Pereira, Sanches, Fernandes; B.Silva, Ronaldo, Jota

France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba, Tolisso; Griezmann; Mbappe, Benzema

SM words green background

We say: Portugal 1-2 France

Portugal have already demonstrated their penchant for goalscoring at Euro 2020, and fans from all across the globe will be in for a treat as Ronaldo and Mbappe prepare to share the same pitch for 90 minutes on Wednesday.

Games between these two European powerhouses have often been low-scoring affairs in the past, though, and just as they did in the Nations League, we can envisage France bouncing back from their underwhelming result last time out to leave Portugal holding their breath regarding last-16 qualification.

Top tip

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France's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on June 8, 2021
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States19201352
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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Scottish Premiership
Taca da Liga
Pre-Season Friendlies
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX

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