Portugal vs France
Wed, 20:00 BST
Live on BBC1
France already in the Last 16
France have already qualified for the knockout phase but there’s still a huge amount at stake as two of the tournament’s heavyweight sides go head-to-head in Budapest on Wednesday night.
Les Bleus are guaranteed a place in the Last 16 thanks to results in other groups working out in their favour earlier in the week, with their tally of four points good enough to assure them of being one of the best third-placed teams at least.
They’re 2.3611/8 favourites to win this game despite already being through, with Portugal 4.03/1 and The Draw 3.02/1.
Didier Deschamps’ side will want to top Group F and that will mean France playing for a win. If they draw that might allow Germany – playing Hungary at the same time that this game takes place – to sneak ahead of them and claim first place in this particular pool.
Portugal will obviously play to win, too, given that they go into this game third in the group. A win here would see them leapfrog France to finish in the top two, which is where they want to be.
Both teams have point to prove
Putting aside qualification permutations, however, there are more primal reasons why both sides will want to do well here.
Portugal have suffered stinging criticism since their defensive frailties were exposed time and time again in their 4-2 defeat against Germany last Saturday evening.
Fernando Santos’ side took the lead thanks to a brilliant counter-attacking move and Cristiano Ronaldo finish but got picked apart repeatedly as Germany roared back into the game and ran out comfortable winners.
Ronaldo and his team-mates will have a point to prove here, so expect a fiercely determined performance from Portugal.
France faced criticism as well after their 1-1 draw against Hungary some hours before Portugal’s misfiring display.
In the searing heat of Budapest they needed a second-half Antoine Griezmann strike to salvage a point after a stuttering performance in which they struggle to impress.
Speaking to the media after that game, Griezmann said the players were “angry” at how they had performed. France rarely play poorly twice in a row, so we can expect the players to take to the field with renewed resolve this time.
The desire of the two sides to make amends for their previous shortcomings while also looking secure a top-two spot ought to ensure attacking football at some point from both teams in this game.
And the evidence of the tournament is so far is that both sides are stronger offensively than defensively.
Portugal conceded goals extremely cheaply against Germany, while France – and Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane in particular – were unusually sluggish against Hungary.
At one end of the pitch Ronaldo is already in fine scoring form, while it’s surely only a matter of time before the array of attacking talent at France’s disposal starts functioning more effectively at a unit.
High goals the smart selection
As a result, it’s worth looking at a few of the Goals markets, on a game where the prices suggest that a low-scoring game may be expected.
‘Yes’ in the Both teams to Score? market is available at evens, and this selection is worth serious consideration given the talent on show and how both teams are likely to approach the match.
The Portuguese defensive flaws were there for all to see against Germany, and the suspicion that, if there is a weak area in the France team, it’s their defence, remains a fair one.
An alternative to backing both teams to score would be to look at some of the options in the Goal Lines market.
Over 2.0 goals should be available at around 1.758/11. With this selection, you’ll get your stakes back if the game has exactly two goals, and make a profit if the game has three or more goals.
The safety net of having your stakes returned in the event of the match having exactly two goals makes this pick worth considering.