Thursday, 14 July 2016

France 0-1 Portugal

Stade de France, Paris

10th July 2016

 As so it came to pass that in spite of his petulant on-field strops, his barely concealed impatience at the limitations of some of his teammates, his woeful free-kicks (not to mention a shameful verbal swipe at those awfully nice Icelandic chaps), Euro 2016 may well go down in history as Cristiano Ronaldo’s tournament. 

Christ, I even heard someone call it Ronaldo’s Final – utterly bizarre given he spent just seven minutes of it as an active participant; until Dimitri Payet’s clumsy (but nothing more) challenge effectively ended his day.  And yet, even after his eventual withdrawal on 24 minutes, his presence appeared to hang over proceedings like a pall.  And I genuinely believe it was French boss Didier Dechamps' inability to take full advantage of the piece of good fortune presented to him which ultimately cost his side the trophy.

For even with the early loss of their opponents’ talisman, France did not really appear to alter their game-plan one iota.  A more proactive thinking-on-the-hoof manager may have immediately (or, at the very latest, at half-time) replaced Moussa Sissoko or Blaise Matuidi with N'Golo Kanté, and thus freed up Paul Pogba to run the show in midfield.  Instead the Juventus man remained pinned down to his task of “protecting” his back-four.  Goodness, how much fortification does any international defence require when faced with lightweights such as Nani and Ricardo Quaresma?  A touch more adventure would surely have seen the hosts pick up the prize. 

That being said, Descamps I suppose could quite justifiably point to the fact his side dominated possession for much of the second-half and carved out at least three gilt-edged opportunities in the process which, on another day, may have seen the French win with ease. 

Antoine Griezmann’s headed miss on 66 minutes was a quite appalling one for a professional footballer (even one who stands just 5’9”), with Olivier Giroud’s failure to beat Portuguese ‘keeper Rui Patrício ten minutes later equally damning.

And what of André-Pierre Gignac’s last-minute effort which hit the post?  Bad Luck perhaps?  His turn which out-foxed Pepe (my player-of-the-tournament) was quite divine, but ultimately his subsequent shot failed to hit the back of the net for no other reason than his inability to strike the football cleanly.

With extra time came an incremental yet tangible shift of the pendulum towards the Portuguese, with EDER’s 110th minute winner coming just moments after Raphaël Guerreiro had thudded a free-kick off the French crossbar.  The ease with which Eder shrugged off Laurent Koscielny’s challenge in the lead up to the goal was almost laughable, although in mitigation, the Arsenal centre-back had just received a yellow-card, which I am sure, was fresh in his mind. 

Urged on by Ronaldo’s increasingly megalomaniac antics on the touchline the Portuguese defence held firm, although were glad to see Anthony Martial fluff his big opportunity in the dying seconds.

Stade de France - Euro 2016 Final

Panorama of Stade de France

Some Fat Bloke and Son

Not the real trophy.

The Henri Delaunay Cup

William Carvalho &  Dimitri Payet (8)

Scotland's presence at the final - Renfrewshire United?

Olivier Giroud & José Fonte (4)

Ronaldo's first post injury collapse.  Moth not shown.

And the second.

First half France corner-kick.....

.....gathered in by Rui Patrício, with a bit of lifting help from Pepe

Panorama of Stade de France

 Kingsley Coman & Cédric Soares (21)

João Mário (10) & Blaise Matuidi

Panorama of Stade de France.

Pepe's header off target.

Blaise Matuidi skips away from Eder

France v Portugal Euro 2016 Final

Clearly Moussa Sissoko learned no lessons from 
Bastian Schweinsteigers' blunder in the semi-final

Raphaël Guerreiro's free-kick comes back off the crossbar

Hugo Lloris

Wasting time in the dying seconds.

Anthony Martial had this opportunity in the last seconds to equalise, but his left-foot slipped from under him just as he was shooting.

Full Time

Full Time

Portugal fans, players and media all converge.

Not quite sure who France reserve goalkeeper Benoît Costil is consoling here.  Lyon defender Christophe Jallet perhaps?

The lights did not go out here, just me farting about with the camera settings.  But I rather liked this effect.
It perhaps reflected the mood of the majority of the spectators at time -up.

A number of the France players simply snatched their
medal when presented rather than have it placed over their head. 

Trophy presentation.

It perhaps says much for my photography skills, that the best picture I could
obtain of the Portugal captain with the trophy, was from the large screen.

Although Son had noted the moth on Ronaldo’s face as the player was shown injured on the large screen, more generally where we were sitting the fluttery little chaps were few and far between.  Perhaps a dozen or so in total, flying about in that seemingly aimless manner they employ.  What was more noticeable was the flock of swifts that bombed around at roof level clearly gorging themselves.  And once darkness begun to fall, larger lighter-coloured birds also appeared – hawks to feed on the swifts?  If so, Nature Red in Tooth Claw, true enough.

View of the stadium from our hotel
(not that you particularly need to know that).

Stade de France, Paris.

Stade de France, Paris.

The Canal St.Denis loops around the Stade de France

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