It seems the only way to prevent France from reaching the final of a major tournament is not allowing them host.
The Les Bleus have won the tournaments they’ve hosted so far – 1984 European Championship where Michael Platini conquered with nine goals in a single tournament and the 1998 World Cup where Zinedine Zidane was emperor as he scored a brace in the 3-0 final win against Brazil.
Again, France are in the final of a major tournament and guess what? They are the hosts and Antoine Griezmann is the overwhelming choice to pick the competitions Most Valuable Player accolade.
Interestingly, Didier Deschamps who is the current manager was the Captain back in 1998 when they won the World Cup on home soil so the Les Bleus are not short on motivation as they match out against the Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal in the final of the Euro 2016 this evening.
How the journey began
France did not play the qualifiers as they are hosts but played a couple of friendly games and surprisingly lost to an average England squad who were knocked out of the Euro 2016 by minnows Iceland.
The French team list was nearly marred by controversy and self-destruct as fans favourite and the best France forward in recent years Karim Benzema was dropped for allegedly being involved in a sex scandal but not many supporters are thinking about it now after their remarkable showing so far.
Didier Deschamps men were drawn against Romania, Albania, and Switzerland and they finished Group A as winners but not without drama.
In the opening match of the tournament France came up against Anghel Lordănescu led Romania side who were a very organized side and had only conceded two times during the qualifiers as they built the team on a solid defense.
Bogdan Stancu scored a penalty early in the second half to give the home side a scare but Oliver Giroud equalized and with the game firmly poised at 1-1, Dimitri Payet who had been in the center of everything good for France netted the winner in the 89th minute to send the fans into wide frenzy.
France did not stop giving fans the late blues as they again replicated the performance in the second match against Albania. After failing to score in the first half they snatch two late goals and once more, it was the brilliant West Ham United midfielder Payet that capped it all.
Already qualified France made a host of changes to their starting line-up and played out a goalless draw against Switzerland in the final Group A match.
France were handed a round of 16 match-up with Republic of Ireland. It was a grudge match as Ireland were still bitter that France denied them a place at the 2002 World Cup – they deservedly took the lead in the first minute of the game as Paul Pogba fouled Southampton striker Shane Long inside the penalty box and Brady finished from 12yards with great aplomb.
The Les Bleus again waited until the second half to turn the game on its head as Antoine Griezmann scored a brace and was responsible for Duffy’s sending off.
France coach Didier Deschamps said after the game: “I knew it was going to be a difficult match, and when Ireland took the lead it made us a bit more uncomfortable in the first half. They showed a lot of enthusiasm but we had to dig deep, get through the situation and get in front.
“[The tactical switch at half-time] was to get more presence up front. Ireland were quite deep so we wanted to get Griezmann closer to Giroud, bring on some speed with Coman and use the wings a bit better. But above all, to get more presence up front – the four attacking players all created chances.”
In the quarter-finals, France paired England’s conquerors Iceland and it was a whitewash as the Les Bleus romped to a comprehensive 5-2 win against the Nation of only about 333,000 population.
France faced their toughest opponents yet, World Champions Germany in an epic encounter.
The Les Bleus were out passed, as the German machine were the most skilled in possession but Captain Hugo Lloris was on fire as he saved France on several occasions that inspired confidence in the team as they pushed for opportunities of their own and luckily Bastian Schweinsteiger gave them a gift when he handled the ball inside the penalty box.
Antonie Griezmann scored from the spot to hand the hosts the advantage and gracefully completed his brace which was his sixth goal of the tournament to put France through to the finals where they will now meet Portugal.
France will take on Portugal in the final of the Euro 2016 and it promises to be a great duel. The Les Bleus are massive favourites but like Portugal have shown so far you cannot write them off. Fingers crossed as we sit back to enjoy this great final.