Terror was in the air on the eve of France Euro 2016. After the November 2015 Paris attacks, including the mass shooting in the Bataclan theatre, big events were considered to be the most likely targets of Islamic extremists, and France was the host of one the most important. But football never stopped: the tournament opened up to 24 participant teams, the largest number ever.
France was also the great favorite for the final victory, with high caliber players such as Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and N’Golo Kanté and the advantage of playing at home in front of its own people. On the other side, Portugal started their group stage with a curious achievement: in the first three matches, the Portuguese team obtained three draws in a row. That was enough to qualify for the next round, according to the new rules of the tournament. But it was only the beginning.
Not a winner, nor a loser
Portugal was a solid team, with a high concentration of quality in the middle field and the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo in offense. But despite the great effort of his star CR7, Portugal obtained only one victory in regulation time throughout the entire tournament. Extra time became Portuguese territory at Euro 2016. Both Croatia, Poland, and France capitulated after 120 minutes, with a strange sense of inevitability.
The Portugal Rule: no more O Fado
The final match was expected to be the consecration of the home team, France. After only 25 minutes of play, Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo suffered an injury and left the pitch in tears: it seemed to be a turning point for France. But minute after minute it was clear that Portugal’s strength wasn’t just individual, but also as a team. In the extra time, the melancholic “Fado” that seemed to strike Portugal in final matches, whispered to the Portuguese supporters. But in the end, it followed the Portugal Rule about extra time. Eder scored with a long-distance shot, and Portugal won its first European title.
Cristiano Ronaldo, a bulky leader?
After Payet tackled him hard, CR7 had to leave the pitch, with the Stade de France cheering him with respect for his tears. In the final minutes, with Portugal ahead, Cristiano jumped off the bench and started giving advice to his teammates, “stealing” the stage from the actual coach, Fernando Santos. A very theatrical way to express his desire to be in the field with his team, on the most important day. The most malicious had noticed that his protagonism could be a little disrespectful to the role of his coach. The truth is that Cristiano, like an étoile, is a bulky personality and a leader in difficult moments, and sometimes fans don’t entirely appreciate his egotistic attitudes.