France's Patrick Viera tackles Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during the 2006 World Cup. PA Archive/Press Association Images
Revenge is sweet

Fourth time lucky? Portugal's tournament record against France makes for grim reading

Can Cristiano Ronaldo inspire this Portugal side to a historic victory over the Euro 2016 hosts?

THE PARTY IS winding down and the hosts are still standing when practically everybody else has gone home.

France’s impressive victory over neighbours and world champions Germany has earned them the right to face Portugal in the Euro 2016 final.

And Les Bleus will be hoping for a little bit of history repeating in the Stade de France this evening (8pm Irish time).

France v Romania - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group A - Stade de France A view of the Stade de France ahead of the opening ceremony of Euro 2016. PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Portugal and France have crossed paths only three times at a major tournament — all of them coming at the semi-final stage, and all of them resulting in a loss for the men from the Iberian peninsula.

To add more pressure to Cristiano Ronaldo and his countrymen, Portugal haven’t managed to beat their rivals in 10 matches stretching all the way back to 1975.

We take a look back at some of their past meetings ahead of the final.

France 3-2 Portugal

European Championships semi-final (23 June 1984)

The Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, the same stadium which saw France dump Germany out of the this year’s tournament, played host to France’s 1984 home semi-final. The French were hoping to make up for an agonising defeat on penalties to West Germany in the 1982 World Cup semi-final by going all the way to the final on their home turf.

Jean-François Domergue stood over a freekick in the 25th minute for Michel Hidalgo’s men and scored his first international goal for his country, fooling Portuguese keeper Bento at his near post. Platini and France continued to dominate with the French captain’s incise passing becoming a continuous nuisance for the opposition’s defence.

A looping header from Rui Jordão leveled the game with only quarter of an hour to go. More threatening attacks from the likes of French danger man Alain Giresse followed in response to the equaliser, but the deadlock remained unbroken and extra-time was required.

Another looping shot from Jordão, this time from a deflected volley, beat Joël Bats in the French goal but then birthday boy Domergue rifled another shot into the Portuguese net six minutes from the end. The game looked to be heading for penalties when Jean Tigana took off on an audacious run slicing through the Portuguese defence before squaring the ball to his captain in the box.

A cool finish by Platini booked his team’s place in the final for the first time, breaking Portuguese hearts. France would eventually go on to lift the title in Paris.

France 2-1 Portugal

European Championships semi-final (28 June 2000)

France entered the 2000 European Championships as world champions and with very realistic ambitions of lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy for the first time since Platini in 1984. But Portugal also had high hopes of landing their first major trophy on an international stage.

The King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels would serve as the venue for what would turn out to be yet another dramatic semi-final clash between the two nations. It was also the first competitive international between the most prominent candidates for Fifa World Player of the Year, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo.

Only 20 minutes had elapsed by the time Nuno Gomes fired a shot past Fabien Barthez to put Portugal firmly in the driving seat to avenge their last meeting at the competition. Thierry Henry, then just 22-years-old, pulled France back into the game in the second half but extra time would be required once again to separate the teams.

A Sylvain Wiltord shot in the 2nd half of extra time had first appeared to go out off Abel Xavier for a French corner, but a penalty was eventually awarded to the French men after it was decided that the flashy-haired defender had handled the ball.

Soon-to-be Player of the Tournament Zidane stepped up and slotted home the golden goal which saw them into the final where they would eventually beat Italy with another golden goal.

France 1-0 Portugal

World Cup semi-final (5 July 2006)

It has been 10 years since Zidane and Figo last did battle on the international stage in the cauldron that is the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Teammates on the famous Real Madrid team of galacticos during the early noughties, this was to be the last time they would share the same pitch.

As the sun began to set on two glistening careers, a new talent was beginning to shine on the world stage in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo. The 21-year old had just scored the winning penalty, in yet another tournament shootout flop for England, and was quickly making a name for himself as a future force to be reckoned with in the game.

The golden generation of Portuguese football was finally reaching its end without any dividend to bear. This tournament would be the last chance for players like Figo and Nuno Gomes to achieve the international glory that was widely expected of them. Everything was on the line as the tournament was also a potential last hurrah for players such as Barthez and Zidane in the French camp.

Shortly after the half-hour mark, Ricardo Carvalho caught Thierry Henry in the penalty area. Only one man was ever going to take the resulting penalty and Zidane sent a bullet into the bottom corner of Ricardo’s net.

Apart from a few early indications from a young Ronaldo of his future abilities, the game didn’t offer much in terms of high-intensity drama and failed to live up to the standards of the previous meetings in 1984 and 2000.

Although the French look considerably stronger on paper this evening, the Portuguese will not be easily satisfied after years of heartbreak inflicted upon them by the French. A win for Fernando Santos’ men on French soil will most certainly ease it.

GugaTV / YouTube

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