Finally, the final of UEFA EURO 2016 has come around. The two teams faced there who has similar pre-history: at the beginning, both of teams tried to play possession game, but as it was awful, they switched to counter-attacking style.
Of course, two teams cannot play this style at the same time, one of them has to play with the ball. Well, France played with it more, they had majority in possession. As neither of the teams wanted to dominate, of course, this situation was advantageous for Portugal.
France was forced to possession game, but they couldn’t take advantage of this. France showed the same problems in possession as in previous matches. Neither FBs, nor DMs gave any verticality, so France’s vertical compactness was awful in possession, their 4-2 unit was completely isolated from 3-1.
Even if they could bypass the halfway line, there was lack of ball-oriented shifts which would be the most important principle of positional play.
After Ronaldo’s injury,Portugal switched to 4-1-4-1. Quaresma played as RW, and Renato Sanches became LCM. It was also good for Portugal, as 4-1-4-1 defending is wider than 4-1-3-2. France was in big trouble, Portugal controlled the match even if they didn’t have the ball.
France still didn’t press high, although gaining possession high and doing quick counters would have been an effective way against Portugal. Payet and Sissoko started to have narrower position for providing vertical option, and after 58 minutes played, Payet was replaced by Coman. The young winger of Bayern played at the left side as inverted winger, not on the right as usual. Deschamps gave up wing play, and he began to concentrate to the half-spaces and the centre.
By the way, Pogba played deeper than Matuidi, furthermore, he sometimes played as lavolpista. To be honest, I didn’t understand why. As french CBs weren’t under pressure, this step wasn’t necessary at all, verticality of French structure just got worse. Griezmann dropped back to exploit space Pogba has opened, then wingers and CF got isolated. No surprise, France had chances mainly from wing play.
In the 79th minute, Santos switched in the striker Eder instead of the CM Sanches, but J.Mario went to the centre, Quaresma to the left and Nani to the right. They kept their 4-1-4-1 and half-pressing.
Deschamps switched in an inverted winger(Martial) on the right side too, but France wasn’t able to score. Portugal retained defensive mentality, sometimes they formed 4-4-2, when J.Moutinho stepped up next to Eder. Finally, Eder became the hero of the Portuguese team as in the 109th minute he scored the winning goal.
I think Portugal deserved the win as they managed to force France to show their weak side. It was a great example for controlling the match without possession. However, I can’t wait for the start of the club season. Playing football without any risk and avoiding defeat instead of winning aren’t so frequent there as in international tournaments.