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A tactical analysis of Wednesday's Euro 2000 semifinal between France and Portugal:

Formations
French coach Roger Lemerre will keep with his tried and trusted 4-3-1-2 system -- the key to which is Zinedine Zidane's free role as playmaker in between a three-man defensive anchor and a two-man attack.
Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho will rely on his loose 4-4-2 system which evolves into 2-3-5 or 2-5-3 or even 2-6-2 depending on circumstances. Like Zidane for France, Luis Figo has a free role for Portugal -- although he tends to operate more as a roving attacking player with only occasional retreats in defence.

Defences
France currently boast the best defence in international soccer. Since Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and Bixente Lizarazu first played together as a quartet against Bulgaria in Euro 96, they have played 24 times together -- and France have never lost, winning 20 and drawing four.
In eight matches at the last three major tournaments -- Euro 96, the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 -- France have conceded just one goal when the quartet have played together, the penalty against Spain in Sunday's 2-1 quarter-final victory.
Desailly and Blanc play in the heart of defence, Thuram on the right, Lizarazu on the left. They have a great collective understanding and are the bedrock upon which France's World Cup success was based.

Portugal's defence may not be as lauded but has also played superbly since the opening 18 minutes of the first match against England when they conceded two goals. Portugal went on to win that game 3-2 and have not conceded another goal in three games since with wins over Romania (1-0), Germany (3-0) and Turkey (2-0).
Fernando Couto and Jorge Costa are at the heart of defence with Dimas on the left and Sergio Conceicao on the right. Both the wide men tend to attack more than France's, which adds to Portugal's attacking options but also leave them more vulnerable to quick counter-attackings. But they have impressed as a solid unit so far.

Goalkeepers Fabien Barthez (France) and Vitor Baia (Portugal) have looked solid enough -- although Barthez gave away a last-minute penalty with a clumsy challenge against Abelardo in the quarter-final win over Spain and was lucky that Raul blasted the ensuing spot-kick over the bar.

Midfield
The heart of the battle will take place in midfield where Zidane and Figo will battle for territorial advantage. But the midfields shape up somewhat differently.
With Emmanuel Petit likely to be fit after recovering from a knee injury, he will partner his Arsenal colleague Patrick Vieira and national skipper Didier Deschamps in a three-man defensive protective unit sweeping in front of the back four to snuff out Portuguese attacks.
They also compliment each other well with Vieira and Petit tending to attack while Deschamps prefers to hang back, continuing to give the midfield balance when France go forward.
The other key in midfield is, of course, Zidane who has licence to roam wherever he likes, creating play and adding his weight to either the defence or attack as necessary.
But France are unlikley to have their own way in the middle where Figo, Rui Costa, Paulo Bento and either Costinha or Paulo Sousa, will pose a serious threat.
Portugal are a more free-running side than France who, despite their flair and invention, play in a more disciplined way. One trademark of the Portuguese midfield is the use of the diagonal pass through the opposition defence as well as the direct running of Rui Costa and Paulo Sousa, if he plays.
But all eyes will be on the Figo-Zidane battle for dominance. Although they are unlikely to come into direct confrontation with each other too often as Figo tends to operate wide and Zidane in the middle, the one who proves stronger on the day will rule the midfield.

Forwards
The biggest difference between the French team that won the World Cup and the present team is the improvement in attack.
It may be part of football folklore that France won the World Cup without a real striker but they now boast a plethora of top class forwards -- Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Youri Djorkaeff, Christophe Dugarry, Sylvain Wiltord and David Trezeguet.
After his blistering goal against Spain, Djorkaeff is likely to start up front with Henry. Dugarry could make way, at least at the start, for the return of Petit.
Coelho's team loves to attack and he will start with Joao Pinto and Nuno Gomes as the recognized strike force but Conceicao -- who scored a hat-trick against Germany -- Figo, Rui Costa and everyone else will be looking to get forward at every opportunity.

Summary

The match could turn out to be a classic as the natural tendency for both teams is to go forward with great speed and invention. Much will depend on the midfield battle between Figo and Zidane who are both inspirational players as well as capable of scoring themselves.

It will take something exceptional to score against France in their current mood and Portugal's defence has improved as the competition has progressed. France, perhaps, slightly shade it for teamwork and experience and that is likely to give them a narrow win in a game that should produce goals.

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That's from Yahoo!
Although this make me a little bit happier, but that is on the paper...
1. I am really afraid of Couto! He's one of the best and slicky defender I've ever seen! If he can make his tactic run well, it's no doubt that one or more France player will get some difficult in dealing with him!
2. Reffering to France's last game, it seemed that France didn't like a team who plays in not an open game!! If Portugal can push the game into a tight game, France will find some difficulties in opening or making some chance for the strikers, like they had when they played Spain!
3. Henry is the important player in up front, so if he play like he did in Spain game, well I don't know what to say!! Henry wasn't on good mood at the last game, I hope he can get back to his real play like he showed in the first three games...
4. And this is the most important, if France lose, Holland will have no chance to prove the world that they deserve that cup with beating France in final... :D

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So, what do you think guys??!
Who do you think will win??!
 

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Wow, i already thought that you had a great time with analysing the teams :)

I think France will win it. Actually i hope for Portugal because i really like to see them play and my team is already out !

But if it can't be Portugal i rather have France then the Netherlands or Italy..

Couto may be a great defender but France attack is really great. Henry, Dugarry, Anelka, .. and behind them Zidane who is playing great football. France is a really good team and overall they are better then Portugal i think.

About Henry : didn't he played more in a central role last game while in the previous ones he was playing more on the left what he did much better !

The best team on paper doesn't always win but i hope we are going to see a great game.

That the best may win it and win the title after it ;)
 
D

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What do you know, France won, but it was far from a classic....

Sergio Conceicao made the most of a fortunate bounce after Petit flew into a tackle, Deschamps really should have cleared but Conceicao poked the ball
forward to Nuno Gomes who fired a spectacular half volley past Barthez.

Thuram and Anelka combined to create the equaliser, Thuram picked out Anelka with a superb through pass, Anelka knocked a cross into Henry whose shot deflected off Couto past Baia. Lizarazu made a spectacular headed
clearance as Gomes was about to pounce on Figo's cross. Anelka and Thuram slipped when in good scoring positions. France also blew a couple of good chances from corners. Barthez made a fantastic last minute save to deny Xavier
who powerfully header Figo's free kick towards the top corner.

Zidane header over a super cross from Pires. Joao Pinto shot just wide from a counter attack. Trezeguet made a complete mess of Wiltord's centre, Baia got a hand on the ball but only sent it as fart as Wiltord who went for
the empty net, Xavier brilliantly saved with his hand but the linesman spotted it, penalty. Zidane blasted the ball into the top corner. Gomes was sent off for protesting.

Awful match. Few goalscoring chances. Portugal defending deep, choking Anelka and Henry of the space they need to utilise their pace. None of the creative players were particularly outstanding with Rui Costa going AWOL.
Zidane performed his circus tricks in non threatening areas. Thuram, Lizarazu and Viera were excellent.

Man Of The Match : Thuram
 

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did u guys see frances first goal.are u blind it was offside.....anekela wa a yard offsides. But it's not frances fault that the call was not made. good luck in the final and count your blessings. i think you are going to thrash holland..but uw will not win the world cup again................it's hard to get 3 gifts in a row.even great teams like france will get screwed like portugal did.

[Edited by oliveira on 29-06-2000 at 16:25]
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Agree with you Driver X, it was far from classic...
I even don't understand why France players were so happy with that goal from penalty kick!!
That wasn't a good ending from a fight between two teams like them...
I hate that!!!
I watched that game and I feel that Abel Xavier didn't touch that ball on purpose!! France didn't deserve that penalty kick...
In another side, Nuno Gomes did an unnecessary doing!! The game was over... Even stupid kid knows that there's nothing to do if a world class referee like them has said and judged something! And the funny fact about modern soccer nowadays is Referee can give a player a red-card even if the game is over, so funny!!!

Like Oliveira said, let them count their blessings...:D

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Kevin, The analysis was almost the same with mine... :p:eek:
 
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