Portugal vs France - Player Ratings

Euro 2024 logoPortugal’s European Championship dream ended against Les Bleus in Hamburg last night. Roberto Martinez, perhaps wisely at this juncture, opted for stability rather than ingenuity with the same XI taking the pitch as did Slovenia.
But despite inspired performances from Vitinha, Nuno Mendes, and Pepe, the Seleção could not break through a French side which has only allowed one goal through five matches.
Conversely, Portugal were held scoreless in their final three matches of the tournament as Martinez, like Santos and others before him, was found unable to assemble the right mixture of youth and experience to take the game by force.  

Starters

Diogo Costa – 7

One might have thought Costa would be well-worked by the French forwards, but Mbappé and company only tested him sporadically throughout the evening. Got some assistance from the woodwork, but was well on top of ordinary threats and seemed comfortable in such a high pressure match. The penalty shootout went very differently than against Slovenia, but does not change that this was a decent tournament from the Porto man. Portugal supporters will surely take great confidence from what they saw of Costa in Germany.

João Cancelo – 7

Finished his tournament on a high note, battling well against Mbappé, but got forward in support of the attack too. Played Bruno Fernandes through with a wonderful ball in the second half, a chance which ultimately went begging. While it is clear he is not this squad’s best fullback, he did enough against France to show he belongs at this level. That said, Cancelo should expect to face stern opposition from Dalot, Semedo, and others for the upcoming Nations League and WCQ matches over the next 1-2 years.

Pepe – 8

Portugal’s war horse, its most dependable champion, surely played his final match, a performance for the ages. Many will long remember his recovery against Thuram late in the second half, but he was brilliant throughout. Put in three tackles, six clearances, and the anchor all night for Portugal’s build out movements. Seemingly everywhere, finished top in number of touches with 97% pass completion. This was an epilogue to honor a legacy of heroic, if not always cool-tempered, service even when others struggled. His career a testament of an undying competitive spirit, a master craftsman who never tired and only rarely ever faltered. A beautiful moment summoning emotion from all corners of the spectrum. How privileged we all were to see him play one last time. Obrigado, Pepe, Portugal's rock.

Rúben Dias – 7

Dias spent the night the way he spent most of the tournament, quietly but dependably showing up when called upon. His sliding challenge against Kolo Muani surely prevented a goal in the second half. His style of play notwithstanding, Dias was tidy on the ball and continued his growing error free streak. Will return to club duty feeling proud that, if nothing else, very little murmuring occurred on account of his performances in Germany.

Nuno Mendes – 8.5, PortuGOAL's Man of the Match

If there is any criticism of Mendes to be given, it is that he should have put laces to the ball at the end of extra time. That tame effort aside, Mendes was quality. He did not have a bad game this tournament, but against France showed why he’s one of the game’s best fullbacks. Imperfect, but determined on defense, and never gave up the hunt for the opening goal. Four dribbles, 97% passing on 139 touches, three tackles, two interceptions, a key pass, and one shot on target. Outstanding, and physically more durable than expected after an injury-hit club season.

João Palhinha – 7.5

Announced his presence in only the fifth minute with a crunching but completely fair challenge. His night was cut short by an awful decision by the referee to card him for what replays showed was a textbook challenge. Acted as a fulcrum ahead of Pepe, made 3 clearances and two vital interceptions. As a late bloomer, it remains to be seen how long he can sustain this form, but despite yellow cards diminishing his time on the pitch, Pahlinha was excellent in Germany.

Bruno Fernandes – 5.5

Lots of effort, not a lot of quality. The tournament as a whole and last night in particular did not go his way. A player of huge significance to the Seleção over the last couple years, Bruno instead gave his critics more reason to demand change in central midfield. Should have won the game after being set up by Cancelo though credit must be given to the keeper for getting down so quickly to his right. Finished second from bottom in pass completion and remained on the margin before being hooked in the second half.

Vitinha – 7.5

By now sounding like a broken record, Vitinha should have settled the match when teed up by Nuno Mendes late in the second half, shooting straight at Maignan instead. Otherwise, registered the most touches of any player not on the backline and showed remarkable strength and skill to hold off physically imposing French midfielders. But like others in this squad, tricks, passing vision, and other individual qualities must culminate with match-winning ruthlessness. Another decent cameo and an excellent tournament from the young PSG playmaker, but more will be required in years to come.

Bernardo Silva – 7

Sprung up here, there, and everywhere, often carrying the ball out of defence. Three key passes, 78/79 passes completed, two tackles, and a clearance suggest how crucial he can be to this squad, especially with Bruno out of form. Was moved centrally late in the match and seemed more comfortable. But Silva again registered no shots on target, and with Vitinha poised to become playmaker-in-chief, many are beginning to wonder how Bernardo will elevate this team, especially if he remains painfully detached from central midfield.

Rafael Leão – 6.5

Hungry, if not always involved, Leão was the hardest player to rate. On one hand, he had the beating of Jules Kounde throughout the match, notched two key passes and two dribbles, took decent care of the ball, and even recorded a tackle, awkward though it was. But contributing zero shots on target - and not for the first time this tournament - is simply not good enough. The speed and trickery were there, but if you’re as bad a crosser as Leão, you must drift inside to test the keeper at times. That never occurred, and that’s why despite what many reported, I saw a player yet to vindicate himself at this level. Silver lining? This was still his best performance of the tournament, and I have faith he will improve and become an important player for the Seleção .  

Cristiano Ronaldo – 4.5

My goodness, it was disheartening to watch. A legend of the game, Ronaldo earned his right to be on this squad, but not to play as many minutes as he did. Despite winning a couple aerial challenges, Ronaldo was too easily dispossessed and recorded the worst pass completion and fewest touches of any outfield player against France. Even when his movement bamboozled French defenders, his speed and touch let him down. Martinez was more than justified to remove him early in the second half of what became his worst performance in a tournament which revealed his time has surely passed. And what a time it was! Poor performance notwithstanding, Ronaldo deserves the respect granted to every all-time great in this sport. Obrigado, Capitão!

Substitutes

Nélson Semedo – 6.5

Did well with the limited minutes he saw. Useful runs and good defensive cover. Will confidently feel he has a place on this squad in future tournaments.

Chico Conceição – 6.5

May have struggled physically against the French defenders, but Conceicao brought to bear far more pace and trickery than had Bernardo Silva. Threaded two key passes but no shots on goal, perhaps the worst trend among Portugal’s attacking players in this tournament.

Rúben Neves – 6

With Pahlinha fit and in the squad, Neves should expect to see time only in friendlies. Just not enough defensive substance or pace in his game to justify anything more.

João Félix – 5

Another misfiring Portuguese forward, Félix came on late, missed a header then missed his PK in the shootout. His only saving grace is that with others struggling, Félix will have yet another opportunity to prove his worth next season.

Matheus Nunes – not rated

by Nathan Motz