In his third tournament column, UEFA EURO 2004 finalist Nuno Gomes discusses Portugal’s hopes after the defeat by Germany and looks forward to the game against France.
Germany dominated the match from the early stages. They controlled the ball for the majority of the game and Portugal – either through necessity or by design – kept retreating in order to protect their goal. Germany had two or three good opportunities in the opening 10–15 minutes.
Portugal then scored on the break despite Germany’s supremacy; it was a move which could have been included in the manual on how to counterattack. However, apart from a short period after the Portuguese goal, the match continued to flow in the same direction. Germany carried on playing the same way and turned things around fairly quickly. They may have been two own goals, but the Germans deserved to be in front by half-time.
In the second half, Portugal made a change but Germany continued to have superiority; it often looked like they had more players on the pitch, such were the problems they caused – especially out wide. Germany went 3-1 up and killed the game after scoring their fourth.
Portugal still managed to respond thanks to some changes by the coach, but Germany made substitutions of their own. Robin Gosens, player of the match in my opinion, and Mats Hummels both went off. The game was more even and Portugal made it 4-2, but that was mainly down to the changes. There were further opportunities for both sides, and – credit where it’s due – Renato Sanches hit a post with an effort which would have been a great goal, but 4-2 was a fair result. Germany were the better team.
The game against France
This will be a game between two great teams, two teams that can go far in the competition – even reach the final. This group has three candidates to make the final in Portugal, Germany and France. The French beat Germany, Germany beat Portugal and I hope Portugal can now beat France. It will certainly be a difficult game to predict because they are two sides with enormous collective and individual value. There are players on both sides who can make the difference at any time.
Kylian Mbappé is the most dangerous player in the French team; he has been at a high level and he is very fast. Speed can make the difference in these competitions. He is an excellent player, whether assisting or scoring. The entire attacking trio is very strong, with Mbappé, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann – top-quality players who, at any time, can create danger.
France have great players in N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba in midfield. These five players will be the most dangerous but they also have an excellent defensive line with players like Raphaël Varane, Presnel Kimpembe and Benjamin Pavard.
Physical condition is important and could play an important role at this EURO. It has been a difficult season with a pandemic and the players’ physical condition can be crucial. Whoever is better physically can take advantage. However, I also think the strategy part is very important – it is a factor that can decide a game.