BUDAPEST (AP): France advanced without kicking a ball, and Portugal can move on as well even with a loss on Wednesday.
Hardly the heavyweight showdown many had hoped for in a match pitting defending champion Portugal against World Cup champion France, and Cristiano Ronaldo against Kylian Mbappe. Results on Tuesday guaranteed France a spot in the round of 16. A one-goal loss for Portugal should be enough as long as Hungary doesn’t win in Germany in Group F’s other game.
Still, that’s unlikely to alter France coach Didier Deschamps’ way of thinking, and he is thinking only of first place. “We still hold the cards,” Deschamps said. “If we win then we’ll finish first.” The winner of Group F will play one of the third-place finishers.
Portugal can still win the group by beating France, but it depends on what happens in Munich in the match between Germany and Hungary. Germany and Portugal have three points and the same goal difference, while Hungary is last with one point and must win to advance. Portugal is having no problem scoring goals — five in two games so far, including a tournament-leading three for Ronaldo. But the Portuguese are conceding too easily, conceding four to the Germans.
“It wasn’t our usual type of game,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “Because in 58 games we only once conceded three goals once (before), and that was at Euro 2016 against Hungary.” It’s the opposite case for France, which shut out Germany in a 1-0 victory but fluffed several chances in a 1-1 draw with Hungary.
“France will be very focused, they never let up and never rest,” Santos said. “I rate all of their players very highly.”
With an attack that is the envy of most coaches, it seems odd that France is not yet clicking in attack.