Thursday, July 18, 2024

Portugal take on France


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Hamburg, July 4: Portugal and France meet in the European Championship quarterfinals on Friday and the match features a head to head between two of soccer’s biggest stars: Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappé. The winner will play either Spain or host nation Germany in the semifinals.
It’s a match between two of the pre-tournament favorites but neither have been convincing. Portugal hasn’t scored a goal in its last two matches – a 2-0 loss to Georgia and a 0-0 with Slovenia before winning a penalty shootout
while no France player has scored from open play at Euro 2024. The French have had two own-goals and a penalty from Mbappé.
Ronaldo burst into tears after having a penalty saved in extra time against Slovenia. Appearing in his record sixth European Championship, he has yet to score – if he does, the 39-year-old striker would be the oldest ever scorer at the tournament.Mbappé will again be wearing a protective mask after sustaining a broken nose in France’s group opener against Austria. France coach Didier Deschamps said after the last-16 win over Belgium that Mbappé might need to wear the mask for “months.” – The match will be played exactly 18 years after the nations’ meeting in the 2006 World Cup semifinals, when Zinedine Zidane scored the winner from the penalty spot. Ronaldo played the full match and the player of the match was Lilian Thuram, whose son, Marcus, is likely to feature for France in Hamburg.France midfielder Adrien Rabiot is suspended after collecting two yellow cards. The likelihood is that Antoine Griezmann will drop back into central midfield to cover for Rabiot, with Ousmane Dembele potentially coming into the forward line.Portugal has no reported injury concerns, with all 26 players in the squad training on Wednesday. No players are suspended, either.Mbappé is one of four France players who will miss the semifinals if they pick up another booking, should the team advance. It is the same with Ronaldo and five other Portugal players.
France has only conceded one goal at Euro 2024. That was the retaken penalty by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, whose first effort was saved by Mike Maignan before the France goalkeeper was adjudged to have come off his line too early.
The 25-year-old Mbappé has 48 goals for France. He has a long way to go to catch Ronaldo, who has a men’s record 130 international goals.This is the teams’ third straight meeting at a European Championship. In the tournament in 2021, they drew 2-2 in the group stage – Ronaldo scored two penalties – and Portugal won 1-0 in the final in 2016.
Ronaldo, who will make a record 212th appearance for Portugal, has had 20 shots without scoring at Euro 2024.“Let’s face it, we’re lacking in that area,” said France assistant coach Guy Stephan on the team’s problems in front of goal. This is Ronaldo’s last Euro. We’ve got everything we need to give him this gift and we’re going to do everything we can,” said Portugal left back Nuno Mendes. Both teams, laden with footballing talent and history, seek redemption and glory in a tournament that has challenged their resilience and resolve. For Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s a final chapter in his storied European Championship saga, while Kylian Mbappé continues to write his own legacy under the spotlight.
Kickoff at 12:30 am IST. (AP)


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