Portugal 0-1 France

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté scored the only goal in a hard-fought victory for France at the Estádio da Luz. France’s win puts them into first place in Group 3 to qualify for the UEFA Nations League knockout rounds.

Portugal’s defeat – their first ever in the competition – means they won’t be able to retain the trophy.

Fernando Santos’s side faced an entirely different class of opposition after Portugal’s 7-0 win over Andorra midweek. The Seleção fielded a heavily-changed team, as the European champions took on World champions, France. These two sides met just last month with a 0-0 draw at the Stade de France. Both teams came into this on the same points and to qualify to the Nations League knockout round Portugal needed a goalless draw or a win, while France needed a win or a score draw.

France were without the injured Kylian Mbappé – good news for Rúben Dias and José Fonte – starting instead with a front three of Kingsley Coman, Anthony Martial, and Antoine Griezmann. For Portugal, Renato Sanches and Domingos Duarte missed out on the match day squad, with Santos going for a front three of Bernardo Silva, João Félix, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game when Griezmann played in Anthony Martial but Rui Patrício was quick off his line to deny the Manchester United forward. France came close again at the half hour mark, a well-worked free kick from Griezmann found its way to Martial to head onto the bar from close range. Rui Patrício denied Anthony Martial again just before the break. France worked the ball well, with Lucas Hernández in plenty of space on the left. The full back’s cross found Martial whose point-blank shot was well saved by the Wolves goalkeeper.

Despite France having the majority of the chances in the first half, Portugal almost went into the break with a goal but Cristiano Ronaldo’s header from a corner went just over Hugo Lloris’s goal.

Although Portugal had a bright start to the second half, it was France who took the lead. Adrien Rabiot found himself space to shoot in the area. Patrício was able to block the shot but his parry found N’Golo Kanté to finish and put the visitors ahead. Portugal almost equalized just minutes later. A long-range effort from Raphaël Guerreiro was well-saved by Hugo Lloris and on the rebound José Fonte’s effort crashed off the post.

Fernando Santos made changes to his team with Diogo Jota, João Moutinho, and Francisco Trincão all coming on as Portugal searched for an equalizer. Indeed, Moutinho came close with an effort from just outside the box that forced a fine acrobatic save from Hugo Lloris. Although Portugal improved after the substitutions, they weren’t able to apply a lot of pressure, allowing France to see off the remaining minutes fairly comfortably.

It was a fairly even game in truth, but it was France’s midfield dominance – with Kanté at its core – that gave them the victory. Portugal were unable to unlock space for the attack to create. Portugal play next against Croatia, who were defeated by Sweden this evening, in a dead rubber game that will perhaps give Fernando Santos the chance to experiment with his squad once more.


by Richard Cole

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício; João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, Raphaël Guerreiro; Danilo Pereira (Sérgio Oliveira, 84’), William Carvalho (Diogo Jota, 56’), Bruno Fernandes (João Moutinho, 71’); Bernardo Silva (Francisco Trincão, 71’), Cristiano Ronaldo, João Félix (Paulinho, 84’)

France XI: Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Presnel Kimpembe, Raphael Varane, Lucas Hernández; N’Golo Kanté, Adrien Rabiot, Paul Pogba; Kingsley Coman (Marcus Thuram, 59’), Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial (Olivier Giroud, 79’)

Goals:

[0-1] N’Golo Kanté, 53’

 

Comments (31)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Without Pepe there‘s a problem in defence. William isn‘t as impactful as he used to be 4 years back. Bernardo is quite often „nothing soecial“ in the NT. Portugal‘s game changed to oositive, when Moutinho replaced Bruno... Boom - back to esrth....

Without Pepe there‘s a problem in defence. William isn‘t as impactful as he used to be 4 years back. Bernardo is quite often „nothing soecial“ in the NT. Portugal‘s game changed to oositive, when Moutinho replaced Bruno... Boom - back to esrth. Santos will learn, that‘s the good part. Maybe Danilo should accept his new role at PSG. and there will be one problem less in the NT. Maybe Bernardo will lose his „untouchable“ status and finally not play anymore when not in form. And maybe the heck finally ot is recognized that this team needs more aggressivity in misfield. Greetings to Renato... PT needs him desperately.

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Kante is world class. We watched a world class player put in a world class performance today, and I'm not even talking about the goal.
The French midfield of Pogba, Kante, and Rabiot is better than our Portuguese midfield of Carvalho, Pereira,...

Kante is world class. We watched a world class player put in a world class performance today, and I'm not even talking about the goal.
The French midfield of Pogba, Kante, and Rabiot is better than our Portuguese midfield of Carvalho, Pereira, and Fernandes, and our midfield is very good, no complaints.
Santos needs to address the "Pepe" issue. His absence leaves a greater hole than any other, including Ronaldo.
Our Portuguese ran up against a German referee, what did you expect?
Sanches needs to get healthy. He's the only guy who can cause Kante problems next June.

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Final thoughts and then I'll shut up for a week.
Santos should double down on his defensive tactics and rely entirely on the counter. When's the last time we've scored against quality opposition from a set piece? We've even gotten better at...

Final thoughts and then I'll shut up for a week.
Santos should double down on his defensive tactics and rely entirely on the counter. When's the last time we've scored against quality opposition from a set piece? We've even gotten better at defending set pieces lol.
With Sanches, we can afford to play extremely defensive. He can make fifty yard runs up the middle.
Fernandes, statistically, is probably better. Yet his performances don't quite translate in an anecdotal sense.
Double down defensively, that's our strength. Let the naysayers talk. That 2016 Croatian game is the best example of this. Croatia was probably the best team that tournament, yet look what happened.

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What a wonderful run. All the previous winning and two trophies make this loss very easy to take. We only lost house money today. This really was a most amazing run we were on and there is absolutely nothing to complain about. I must admit...

What a wonderful run. All the previous winning and two trophies make this loss very easy to take. We only lost house money today. This really was a most amazing run we were on and there is absolutely nothing to complain about. I must admit however I feel dissatisfied for some reason and this must be because I became like a spoiled child. We must remember and be thankful for all the great memories we had from 2016 all the way until today.

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Thoughts

I enjoyed watching this match for the most part. Two very competitive teams. The difference was France played to win and we played not to lose. I guess that's what we get with Fernando Santos in charge. The speed of Danilo and William...

Thoughts

I enjoyed watching this match for the most part. Two very competitive teams. The difference was France played to win and we played not to lose. I guess that's what we get with Fernando Santos in charge. The speed of Danilo and William is about as fast as a tricycle on training wheels and we lacked creativity through the middle all game. Bernardo may be a little more naturally gifted than former Portugal midfielder Danny but they rank the same when it comes to talent wasted. Bernardo or Jota on the flank? There's no question. This team is far too talented to be losing games that end 1-0. Look how well we played when the substitutions were made. We might have won even, with some better luck. Truthfully, our defence with Fonte slowing down and an injury prone Pepe is not worth laying our foundation on. Until Santos begins to fully utilize the plethora of attacking variety we have at our disposal, we can forget about winning Euro 2020 or World Cup 2022.

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Disappointing game. The first 70 minutes were a disjointed mess. No one was on the same page. Portugal only showed up for the last 20 minutes when the subs came on. The midfield was too slow without any cutting edge in their passing. This is...

Disappointing game. The first 70 minutes were a disjointed mess. No one was on the same page. Portugal only showed up for the last 20 minutes when the subs came on. The midfield was too slow without any cutting edge in their passing. This is where the game was lost. Our game plan also relays heavily on the full backs pushing forward and Santos clearly told them not to do that. I agree with the comments about Bernardo losing his untouchable status. He’s been very poor for a year now. Jota deserved the start. Danilo playing CB for PSG may be a big blessing for us. It’s clear as day now that Fonte is past it and Semedo and Duarte hardy inspire any confidence. Fonte was so poor today. I can’t imagine what a fully fit Mbappé would have done against him. Sanches was tailor made for this game, I know he was injured but he needs to start getting more opportunities in the future. Patricio is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

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You know to be honest I’m probably the most cynical and pessimistic Portuguese fan out there. However, I wasn’t that upset about this game, I watched it with my cousin who is similar to me and he was flipping out but I actually thought we were...

You know to be honest I’m probably the most cynical and pessimistic Portuguese fan out there. However, I wasn’t that upset about this game, I watched it with my cousin who is similar to me and he was flipping out but I actually thought we were ok. Let me explain, if you look back to euro 16, France dominated us straight up and that’s the truth. 8 out of 10 games they win that euros but today, I think we’re as good as they are and possibly better too. Anyways, I’ve been calling for Renato and Leao for awhile now and this is the game where it would be nice to have them. I’m not sure if you guys watch Leao on Milan but he’s basically unguardable on the wing, we needed that today. I love Jota but he needs players around him that see the space that he creates, when you play great teams like France, Germany etc, they won’t give Jota or anybody space. Leao creates space because he’s fast as shit, similar to why I like Renato in our midfield, he forces defenders to leave their space because he’s dynamic. When defenders cave towards Renato/Leao that opens up lanes to exploit.

As for the game, please no more fonte I mean seriously, haven’t we all known for a looooong time that he’s suspect? I’d rather see semedo or Duarte any day in that position. Like I originally said though, I’m not that mad about this game. If I had to grade the game I’d say France was just a little better than us but if you think about the last 4 years their level has stayed stagnant where as we’ve become much better.

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WTF has happened to Bernardo? Two seasons ago he was one of the best players in the world. He looks so average now.

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Personally I am not upset over this loss, a good effort but objectively France has a little more quality. France is always a tough match up for us given the great technique and athletic abilities. A team full of world class players in every...

Personally I am not upset over this loss, a good effort but objectively France has a little more quality. France is always a tough match up for us given the great technique and athletic abilities. A team full of world class players in every position.

What we learned.

1. B Silva and B Fernandes are not Figo and Costa, not even near in quality. B Fernandes is wasteful with the ball and I can't recall a game where for the NT he has stood out. He has no signature moments with the NT. B Silva is out of form. His stupidity on the ball allowed the first goal by giving up the ball deep. Bottom these players are duplication and don't give us the creativity we need. Play one not both.

2. Portugal once again can't score against a top quality side. No good link up play through the middle (I cry for the Deco days) and the threats come from the sides with crosses/passes where the defense is well positioned to clear and we don't have numbers. How many times have we seen this the last 10 years?

3. Fonte you been a good servant for country time to move on. Ruben Dias is the man, very composed and continues to be class. We need Pepe but the obvious we need to find more quality depth in CB.

4. Jota, I know there is a love affair with him but against quality side his game is average. Yes, he does run to create space but you need dynamic players for him to be effective. IMO he is a good backup but not a starter.

5. By taking out Silva or Fernandes we need to add some speed. I think Trincao or maybe one of our U-21 player can pick up that role to provide the speed and effective width.

6. A Silva should have gotten a call up, not sure why not. He can still be an effective striker even as a late sub given he has a nose for the goal.

7. Carvalho and Danilo, I've been a fan of the two in midfield, in the first game against France they played well. They got over run today, I look for them to bounce back. Maybe time to look at Sanches. Ruben Neves is not the answer against top quality side, too slow and will get destroyed by quality teams with speed.

Overall, there is hope. We have some quality players, maybe not as many as we thought. We need a couple of players back in form and tweak the line up a bit to get more creativity in the middle, more speed, and another scoring option up front. We can compete but as long as France is there we will need to match their technique and athletic abilities.

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Defense wins games. Defense also creates chances. Having great attackers means nothing. Look at Argentina.
In defense of Silva, the French have two world class players in Kante and Kimbempe. Pavard and Rabiot are hugely under rated defensively....

Defense wins games. Defense also creates chances. Having great attackers means nothing. Look at Argentina.
In defense of Silva, the French have two world class players in Kante and Kimbempe. Pavard and Rabiot are hugely under rated defensively. No one apart from Sanches would've made a difference today.
Why doesn't Santos see the opportunity Psg is offering him. Pereira at CB solves every problem.
Silva needs to get out Manchester City. The "social media thing" from last year screwed with his mojo. I don't trust Pep to do the right thing by him.
Leao is a stud. People will be saying that he should've played this year, five years from now when he finally gets his shot.
I lost confidence today in our ability to make it out of group come June. Playing Hungarians and Germans away doesn't bode well for us. We cannot score against the French. We have the same problem with the Germans. Our little fowards cannot handle the size of their defenders. The Hungarians aren't a given either. One solid day from their goalie and we draw nil nil. We may get embarrassed come June. I said this before but everyone disagreed.
Last June was our chance to repeat. The French and Germans were down. Now both have gotten stronger. In fact it may end up a French and German Nations League final.
Lastly, I LOVE Ronaldo. He's a hero, BUT. He can no longer be our focal point on attack. Too many crosses today confirmed that. The French knew it. They waited. We telegraphed it. Paulinho, shoot towards the goal! Fonte, be there to tap in his free kick! Someone anyone get in there and mix it up! Felix had a perfect opportunity to score today. What did he do? You know what he did.

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