In one of the weekend’s hotly anticipated matches, France and Portugal played out a goalless draw at the Stade de France. Despite the two sides going into the match with incredibly dangerous attacking line-ups, the defence ultimately prevailed as the two nations had to settle for a point in this top of the table clash.
In a repeat of the EURO 2016 final, France hoped for revenge tonight. The hosts welcomed Kylian Mbappe into the side alongside the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba. Meanwhile for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo captained a strong team.
It was a game that was expected to bring many talking points, and the first came just two minutes into the clash. The latest addition to the Manchester City side, Ruben Dias was booked following a nasty collision with Olivier Giroud. The pair went for a header and the defender elbowed the Chelsea striker in the back of the head. However, it only warranted a booking from the official.
The first major chance of the game would fall to the hosts just before the halfway point of the first half. A cross from left-back Lucas Hernandez was met well by Pogba. But his header fell just wide of the Portuguese net.
However with ten minutes left of the half, it would be Portugal to have their turn at having a sight of goal. A free-kick from Bernardo Silva was whipped into an extremely dangerous position. Joao Felix met the cross and his effort petered wide. Ronaldo looked disappointed with the 20-year-old as he was in a much better position to test Hugo Lloris.
Much like the final four years ago, the two sets of star-studded sides went into the break goalless. It was an incredibly tactical 45 minutes, with both sets of attacks being starved of any real service in this battle at the top of the A3 Nations League group.
Chances continued to be hard to come by as the two sides battled in the second half. A player who Didier Deschamps would have loved to receive the ball in Griezmann struggled to create any meaningful chances for the two French attackers.
Over the course of the match, Portugal had looked incredibly dangerous from set pieces. With just under twenty minutes remaining in the match, Pepe had a goal disallowed for offside. It was a beautiful cross from Bruno Fernandes that created the chance, but the high-line of France had worked on that occasion.
Surprisingly the game had lacked in pace for much of the encounter. Deschamps would turn to Manchester United striker Anthony Martial in search of a breakthrough. Martial replaced Giroud up-front for the hosts, who still remained nine goals away from becoming their all-time leading goalscorer as a nation.
But as the hosts took off their starlet in Mbappe, it seemed clear that the game headed for a goalless draw between the reigning World Cup and Euro champions. It certainly came as a disappointment for the few French fans who had the opportunity of witnessing the spectacle inside the Stade de France.
Ronaldo almost shocked the supporters with just a minute left of stoppage time. The Portuguese captain rifled an effort towards the French goal, however Lloris matched the effort at his front post with ease.
As the referee blew for full-time in this incredibly tactical battle, the two sides will quickly have to forget about this goalless draw and prepare for another set of matches on Wednesday night. France will now travel to Croatia in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final, whereas Portugal play host to Sweden.