Portugal and France is one of those games you get excited for, simply based on the fact that you can name at least half of the participants in their respective domestic top tiers.
But it’s more than that, this time.
At stake, we’ve got what is effectively a tie to decide the winners of Group A3 – which I’m aware sounds like a factory line subsection – who will go on to directly qualify for the Nations League Finals.
Portugal v France, Saturday 7.45pm
Sky Sports Football
Now, while that’s the literal prize, it’s in figurative terms where this one becomes enthralling. France and Portugal don’t have much of a chequered history – or at least they didn’t until the final of Euro 2016, when Portugal robbed France of a major title.
Then, of course, there’s the handing of the baton from the current second-best player in the world to the soon-to-be second-best player in the world. Now, Ronaldo’s about as likely to hand over an accolade as I am to pass up on a fourth plate at a buffet but the figurative point remains.
Who’s going to win the group? Will the demons of 2016 be put to bed? Will we ever be allowed attend a buffet again post-pandemic? Here’s a Same Game Multi.
This, for me, comes down to preparation. France came into their friendly against Finland on Wednesday night unbeaten in twelve games. That wave of momentum has ceased after a shock 2-0 reverse, and while they didn’t play a full-strength, it was still considerably stronger than the Portuguese team that won 7-0 against Andorra.
But crucially, there were late minutes given to the legs of Messrs Ronaldo and Silva, which will be crucial as they look to beat a side comfortably better than them, but a side who also lack any psychological advantage when it comes to this fixture.
There’ll be a period of tension with this fixture, of course. And the clever play here is to see parity at the half, as inevitably when a side goes ahead in a game of this magnitude, they try and rest on their laurels to a degree.
If you sit deeper than usual against either of these attacking quartets, you’re in serious trouble.
This is one game where a draw does absolutely nothing, and there’s far too much pride in these units to think anything but that.
The draw they played out earlier in the group probably had this fixture in mind – billing it as the decider from months out and now we’re here, I can’t imagine the message from either manager will be to see if the other drops points in their final group games.
This is definitely a price play, but one I can get behind largely due to the attacking threat they possess and the fresh legs of Kylian Mbappe who didn’t feature at all in the Finland game. That might not help him in the later stages, but early doors, he’ll be the energy source that France need to start the game well. That’s if he’s not too busy checking his phone of course.
Portugal v France tips
- A Paddy Power Same Game Multi of the above 4 legs clocks in at 19/1
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