Portugal's Pepe fit for final against France

by Sadie Mccarthy Julio 11, 2016, 5:57
Portugal's Pepe fit for final against France

With France's baby-faced poster boy Antoine Griezmann going up against preening Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, the Euro 2016 final will feature a duel between two very different number sevens.

French coach Didier Deschamps, who captained France to a Euro win in 2000, expressed confidence in his team to rewrite history, but also cautioned his players of Portugal's strengths.

"Euro 2004 was special - I was just 19 and it was my first tournament", Ronaldo said after scoring a magnificent header in Portugal's 2-0 semi-final win over Wales.

History favours the home team - having won two of their three football tournaments on home soil - the Euros in 1984 and the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

"We're like kids, there's a whole country behind us and we have to give 100 per cent for them".

He has since been voted the world player of the year three times and gone on to huge success with Real Madrid.

Sagna added: "Sure, he's an exceptional player, but I have to play against top players every week so it doesn't scare me".

25-year-old France and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Greizemann may have had many admirers throughout the tournament but those numbers certainly have risen since his brace last Thursday ended Germany's dreams of making the finals of the tournament. Pepe said Portugal were strong because they want to win.

Their opponents, France, have a lot going for them - primarily that they are very good and are the hosts of the tournament.

"Their players play in the best teams and they are used to very intense games".

But triumphing over Cristiano Ronaldo and his compatriots at the Stade de France might resonate beyond the sporting arena.

Santos then began selecting Southampton defenders Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares, leaving Pepe to lead a reshaped line that helped Portugal win tightly-contested knockout games against Croatia and Poland.

" We have come through a crisis in French football". Catch live streaming of France vs Portugal Euro 2016 final match from 12:30 AM IST (Monday).

He was born in Angouleme in central France and grew up near Bordeaux alongside Mathieu Valbuena - the playmaker who was left out of the French squad for the finals.

"We went through a crisis but we fought our way back, all of us, the French federation, the coaches and the players, step by step", he said. "But he doesn't scare me", defender Bacary Sagna told a news conference.

From Givors, near Lyon, he was picked up by Lyon at the age of just nine and seized his chance in the first team following the departure of France number one Hugo Lloris to Tottenham Hotspur in 2012.

"The French people needed to find their way again", President Francois Hollande said in a commentary on the wave of support for the national team that has been in disgrace in recent years. I think I was with you.

Time for the grand finale of Euro 2016. Will Portugal avoid the hurt of 2004 when they lost to Greece?

"Fortunately, I have some winners here, because someone who hasn't won anything doesn't know what it's like and hasn't got the taste for it... and there are some here with a tremendous taste for winning".


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