France have joined Portugal in the final of Euro 2016.
The two national teams are going to fight this Sunday at the Stade de France, for the most ‘‘desired’‘ football title of the year.
To discuss the two finalists and in general about the tournament which is coming to an end, The Corner linked up with Vincent Duluc, chief of the football section at the French daily newspaper ‘‘L‘Équipe.”
Vincent Ménard, Euronews: “It’s done, the Blues have ended their curse against Germany? Are the players europhic after this win or are they conscious that there’s still a job to do, a title to win?”
Vincent Duluc, L‘Équipe: “There’s certainly some euphoria that carries them. They need that.
“This is a team that needs recognition, they’ve finally found it and they achieved it all together.
“But every single player underlined there’s still a last game to win. The outcome would be completely different if it were to end with a defeat – that would be the last image of the Euro, a bad memory.”
Euronews: “There’s a player who’s on fire at the moment, who is full of confidence. This is Antoine Griezmann of course…”
Vincent Duluc: “Right now, it’s confirming the theory that a French team never goes far without a world-class player. That was the case with Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, and Zinedine Zidane. Today, that great player is Antoine Griezmann.
“This is the second French player to score six goals in a Euro, after Michel Platini. He’s a player who’s not only French, he grew up in Spain. It’s this mix of cultures that makes him stand out.”
Euronews: “There’s another great player, but in the other team, Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo obviously. This may be the year for him. He’s won everything at club level, but nothing at the moment with his selection?”
Vincent Duluc: “It’s quite a fascinating quest. That’s to say that the most reputed selfish player on the planet carries his team. He played his first Euro final at home in Lisbon in 2004. And 12 years later, he will compete in a second final in Paris.
“Honestly, he’s the captain of Portugal, a team that’s been poorly performing for a few years.
“But he’s managed to elevate them, he saved the day against Hungary in the third group match. And we must respect the great career of this player, who’s aiming for the ultimate crown in the twilight years of his career.”
Euronews: “The Portuguese are through, somehow miraculously. They drew three times in the group stages. And they narrowly got through to the quarter-finals. Do they have what’s known as the luck of the champions?”
Vincent Duluc: “For once, the final will pit two teams who have a bit of champion’s luck. Because in fact, the Portuguese have won only one match before stoppage time. And the French have beaten almost everyone, but yet almost no-one.
“That is to say that facing Ireland in the round of sixteens and then Iceland in the quarter-finals, it was really lucky. I think it will be a derby of teams who’ve had all the luck on Sunday night at the Stade de France.”
Euronews: “Historically, Portugal is seen as an easy opponent for France…”
Vincent Duluc: “At the moment in the Euro, we’re seeing countries one after the other who are slapping the curse that’s been afflicted. We finally saw Germany eliminate Italy and we finally saw France eliminate Germany.
“So we are a little fearful that Portugal could finally beat France, after France snatched a Euro 2000 final and a World Cup final in 2006.”
Euronews: “The French and Portuguese have met expectations in this Euro, but this is not the case for all of the teams…”
Vincent Duluc: “Spain is a big loser this time around, eliminated in the knockout stages. They were European champions in 2008, world champions in 2010 and European champions again in 2012. It’s a tired generation, so that’s why we’re going to say Spain was a big disappointment of this Euro.
“The other disappointment of the Euro was the level of play. Show-wise, expanding the competition to 24 teams, finally got lots of smaller teams involved. And small nations can do one thing at least, defend. That’s why the Euro was a bit more defensive and less spectacular than previous occasions.”
Euronews: “But these small teams, did blow a fresh wind into the Euro – and some of them have done superbly…”
Vincent Duluc: “In fact it is regrettable to say that we’ve had a somewhat defensive Euro under the influence of those teams that did not have the means to do other things. In contrast, there were two amazing impacts.
“First, the atmosphere, because fans of Britain and Nordic countries were truly exceptional and France lived through these beautiful days thanks to them.
“And another memory will be the epic journey of Iceland, who reached the quarter finals of the Euro, with a population of just 330,000 and five percent of them were in the stadiums. This will be a lasting memory.”
Euronews: “Finally, what are the defining moments of this tournament for you?”
Vincent Duluc: “Unfortunately, it’s difficult to forget the terrible images of hooliganism in Marseille at the time of the Russia-England match. But this page was turned over.
“We will keep the wonderful song of Northern Ireland fans, “Will Grigg’s on fire.
“We will remember the great clapping of Icelanders.
“We will remember a few fantastic goals, like Ronaldo’s who seemed to reach the stars with his beautiful header sending Portugal to the final.
“And we will keep that feeling of deja vu from France, coming down the street, a country happy in the fan zones, and the celebration from Griezmann called sarabande, which could be even bigger on Sunday.”