Portugal boosted by return of Pepe to training

by Sadie Mccarthy Julio 11, 2016, 5:38
Portugal boosted by return of Pepe to training

"The national team made mistakes before, but they have learned from it". Hundreds of fans waited outside. "We went through a crisis in French football but we have overcome it", says Lloris.

"Coming from that to putting together a great team takes time and a lot of hard work". With the Germans and the Spanish, success was not created overnight. You can not buy experience.

"We have players who give us advice at certain moments in the match", Mario said, without providing names.

The France coach wore the skipper's armband when the hosts lifted the 1998 World Cup and again when France claimed the European title two years later in Rotterdam.

Deschamps has faced criticism during his tenure, particularly after he dropped Mathieu Velbuena and Karim Benzema following their involvement in a sex-tape blackmail case.

The players refused to train at their Knysna training base in protest at striker Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad for insulting coach Raymond Domenech and the team were eliminated in the first round.

"We took French football to an all-time low, we showed a very bad image. Six years on, we are getting closer", said Sagna.

"Of course, Dimitri Payet has also done very well, but he is nearly 30 years old".

"The French people really needed to escape via this competition, and sport has this strength: to unite people".

The average goal tally at the past three tournaments was consistently between 2.45 and 2.48 per game.

Mark Clattenburg is taking charge at the Stade de France, having in May officiated the final of the FA Cup and Champions League. Portugal was on the wrong end of a shocking loss to Greece in the Euro 2004 final as the home country, and it will try to exorcise those demons this weekend.

"It's always tough to win trophies in football and winning the silverware with the national team is even tougher because there are only two titles up for grabs and you play against the best players in the world".

"Tomorrow I think we are going to write a new chapter in our history".

Veteran defender Pepe, who played a key role in Portugal's advance to the final, trained normally on Saturday and said he was ready to play if chosen. He missed the semi-final win over Wales through injury.

"I coached him 13 or 14 years ago at Sporting", Santos recalled to journalists at Stade de France, which will stage the final.

With the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo and a midfield diamond created to offer the Real Madrid man scoring opportunities, a committed defensive performance will be required from all French players.

Asked how he transmitted his winning mentality to his players, he said: "It's the quality of the players, above all, and the team spirit".

"Sure, I would like to see Portugal open up the game and demonstrate why they deserve to be in the final".

France are clear favorites for the final and Portugal will need to be at their best to take down the hosts, especially in defense, where they will be tested by a unsafe attack that brings runners from everywhere to go along with the physically imposing Olivier Giroud. "And I will be going home very happy".


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