Euro 2024

Euro 2024: Final 16 – Can France Rediscover Their Form Against the Young Belgium Squad, and Can Portugal Avoid an Upset?

Last Updated on July 3, 2024

Can you believe it? We’re already at the last 16 of Euro 2024. The remaining teams are now just four wins away from winning it all. France entered Euro 2024 as one of the top picks, similar to England, but their performance has been below expectations. With just one win under their belt, they ended up second in Group D, managing only two goals in the process. 

One of those goals was a penalty by Kylian Mbappé, but it wasn’t enough as Poland held them to a draw in their final group match. Belgium wasn’t expected to perform well despite their high FIFA ranking, since they are transitioning with some of their older generation players still in the mix. Belgium was anticipated to top Group E but finished second, suffering one defeat along the way. 

For their upcoming match, Didier Deschamps will likely put Marcus Thuram back in the starting lineup, keeping the rest of the team unchanged with Mbappé leading the attack. 

On the other hand, Belgium has shuffled their lineup in the initial matches, and manager Tedesco now has to decide who will play on the right wing alongside Romelu Lukaku and Jérémy Doku. The head-to-head stats show that France has had the upper hand over Belgium in recent encounters, adding more anticipation to their next meeting at the Düsseldorf Arena on July 1st. 

France only lost once in their last six games against Belgium. During these matches, there was a memorable World Cup semi-final where Samuel Umtiti scored the winning goal in Saint Petersburg.

Another different story of the Final 16 will happen in Frankfurt. For Portugal, this could be their second European title, having first won in 2016. Roberto Martinez’s team topped Group F after beating the Czech Republic and Turkey. 

This allowed them to rest key players, but they did lose their last group game 2-0 to Georgia. Even so, they had already won 12 straight competitive matches leading up to this. On the other hand, Slovenia just made it to the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed teams, getting through on goal difference over Hungary. 

Group C was tough for Slovenia, facing England, Denmark, and Serbia. They drew all their matches but made history by reaching the knockout stage for the first time ever. They didn’t have the ball much, averaging 32% possession, but that was enough. 

Portugal and Slovenia will face off at 8 pm on Monday, July 1st, at the Waldstadion in Frankfurt. Slovenia may not have won a game yet, but they did score in two of their three matches. Only England managed to keep Slovenia from scoring. Portugal, meanwhile, conceded goals in two of their three group games. The interesting thing about Portugal under Martinez is that they tend to match their opponents’ formation. For this game, they are likely to return to a 4-2-3-1. 

Slovenia is expected to stick with their traditional 4-4-2, with only a few changes to their lineup. This will be an intriguing match, especially after Slovenia beat Portugal in a friendly in March.

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