Euro 2016 predictions: And the winner is…
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Precisely one month ago, on the 10th of June, EURO 2016 began amidst different expectations from nations, players, fans and everybody somehow connected to the game of football. We’ve experienced the shocks, surprises, fairytale runs, disappointments and fulfillments on the pitch and also the hooliganism, bad blood, fan camaraderie, colours and celebrations off the pitch. It all comes down to tonight’s final match between France and Portugal. We will be previewing tonight’s game and also the entire tournament in our final column for this tournament.
For the first time in the history of the EUROS, we had twenty four teams participate at the finals, thus making this edition the biggest ever. There were more matches, more players, more fans and more excitement. The addition of eight teams to the previous format of sixteen teams has been largely rewarding in terms of exposure, opportunities, revenue, etc.
However, some European football purists have come out to criticize the expansion of the tournament and their main grouse is that it has greatly diluted the quality of football the championship is used to dishing out. This can be argued as a valid point, because with the expansion came some sort of complacency from teams as most of them knew that with a third place finish in the group, they could still qualify for the knockout stages, a scenario that would have been impossible previously. Hence this probably robbed the fans of seeing teams give out their best performances from the start of the tournament.
We will take a look at some of the statistics of EURO 2016 and compare with the last two tournaments, starting with goals. Except we get over ten goals in tonight’s game, it’s safe to say that officially, the last two tournaments produced a better average of goals per game. In terms of attendance, this edition had a better attendance average than the previous two, with an average attendance of 47,029, compared to 46,481 four years ago and 36,308 eight years ago. In the disciplinary aspect, this tournament was slightly better than the previous two as we saw an average of 3.90 yellow cards and 0.06 red cards per game, while four years ago, it was 3.97 yellow cards & 0.10 red cards per game and 3.94 yellow cards & 0.10 read cards eight years ago.
The Germans had more possession per game than any other side with 63.1%, edging the Spaniards, who totaled 61.9% per game. The Spaniards were however, the most accurate passers, completing 89% of their passes as against 87.7% completion by the Germans. The three lions of England topped the shots attempted category with 20.5 per game, followed by Belgium with 19 and the Germans and the Portuguese, joint third with 18.8 per game. Individually, Antoine Griezmann is the highest goal scorer with six goals, while Cristiano Ronlado tops the chart for most shots attempted per game with 7.5 and the duo of Eden Hazard and Aaron are the top assist makers with four each.
Portugal will meet hosts France in the final of UEFA Euro 2016 tonight at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis as the biggest beneficiary of the newly extended format of the tournament. In the old format, they would have been eliminated a while ago as they were only able to finish in third place in their group. They got to this stage after securing their only win under ninety minutes in the tournament so far, a 2-0 victory over Wales, in the semi-finals, while the home nation beat Germany by the same score-line in their last-four meeting.
Both teams boast excellent firepower up top, with Cristiano Ronaldo the shining star for Portugal, while Antoine Griezmann(the French version of Cristiano ronaldo, according to French legend, Thierry Henry), who struck twice in the semi-final, leads the line for France. Portugal haven’t won a lot of fans in this tournament, mostly due to a rather dour and pragmatic brand of football, but in fairness to them, they have relied on a simple formula that has been working for them, which is keeping things tight in the middle and at the back, while trusting Ronaldo and Nani to grab the goals(Ronaldo has 3 goals and 3 assists, while Nani has 3 goals and 1 assist).
Antoine Griezmann didn’t start the tournament with a bang as he sort of underwhelmed in their opening game against Romania, however, after grabbing a last minute goal against Albania in their second match, there has been no stopping the Atletico Madrid forward as he has scored five more goals in the knockout rounds of the tournament. His six goals are as many as the total number of goals Thierry Henry managed in his career at the EUROS and second-most at a single EURO after Platini (9).
The midfield battles in this game will be very interesting to watch as each squad is underpinned by a powerhouse workhorse or two. For Portugal, Renato Sanches is the standout figure as an energetic and dynamic box-to-box runner, while the likely return of William Carvalho from suspension will also add more steel to the Portuguese midfield. Yet they are unlikely to have the run of the middle of the park against a French team held together by the drive of Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi, while not forgetting the aggression of Moussa Sisokho and/or N’golo Kante, depending on how Didier Deschamps decides to file out his team.
These two sides have met twice before in the European Championships, 1984 and 2000. Both these clashes were in the semifinals, France triumphed in both and went on to win both championships. Their only other meeting in a competitive match was also in the semi-final, at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, which France won via a Zinedine Zidane penalty.
The French are on a ten-match winning run against Portugal across all formats, dating back to 1978. Both teams have met a total of 24 times with France winning 18 and Portugal winning 5, with one draw between them. If we have to go by the history, France are heavy favourites to win this match, but one trend that has been noticed in this tournament is that some teams have been overcoming hoodoos hitherto held over them by certain other teams. An example is what happened in the previous round as France broke a 58 year jinx of losing competitive games to the Germans.
My betting tips for this game are as follows, both teams to score, Ronaldo to score at any time, Over2.5 goals and a double chance bet on Portugal. Remember, these are just my personal tips; you can come up with yours from everything that I have written about these teams today and decide how you want to place your bets.
Don’t forget to visit www.bonanzawin.com and take advantage of the unbeatable odds and different scenarios you can bet on. As we say goodbye to France and crown the champions of the fifteenth European football championship, put some money in your pockets with smartly placed bets. Au revoir!