Portugal came into Euro 2020 as holders of the trophy after winning a first ever major tournament five years ago, a relatively unfancied side upsetting host nation France in the final.
Portugal had struggled through the group stages of Euro 2016 with three consecutive draws, finishing third before showing improvement in the knockout rounds to eliminate Croatia, Poland and Wales to reach the final.
The showpiece was decided by the narrowest of margins as substitute Eder wrote his name into the nation’s history books, firing home a low drive to crown Portugal as champions of Europe.
As the two teams prepare to meet in the group stages of this summer’s tournament, we remember the Portugal XI who beat France to win Euro 2016.
Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio
Rui Patricio will remain Portugal’s number one ahead of Euro 2020, having played an integral role in the nation’s success in France.
Patricio kept four clean sheets throughout the tournament as was the hero of the quarter-final win against Poland on penalties, whilst he was excellent in the final, making a string of saves to frustrate the hosts who dominated the chances.
The goalkeeper signed for Wolves in 2018, forming part of a strong Portuguese contingent at Molineux over the past three seasons.
Right-back: Cedric Soares
Another familiar face for Premier League fans, the former Southampton defender did not feature until the last-16 win over Croatia, before remaining a fixture in the side throughout the knockout stages.
The right-back dealt with the threat of Dimitri Payet admirably in a strong final performance, as Portugal upset the host nation to be crowned winners.
Cedric spent five seasons with the Saints and made 138 appearances across all competitions. The defender currently plays his club football for Arsenal.
Pepe may not win many popularity contests, but the centre-back certainly knows how to win major honours and has become one of Portugal’s great modern players over the past decade.
The defender headed into Euro 2016 after winning the first of three consecutive Champions League trophies with Real Madrid, and became a European champion for club and country in France.
Pepe’s mix of shithousery and stifling defending must make him a nightmare to play against and is reason the veteran still forms part of the national team squad at the age of 38.
Centre-back: Jose Fonte
The second Southampton player to start the final for Portugal, Jose Fonte was a late bloomer when it comes to international football and only made his debut as a 31-year-old in 2014.
Fonte has risen through the English footballing pyramid with the Saints before becoming a reliable Premier League performer, the experienced star shining alongside Pepe throughout the tournament.
Now 37, he currently plays his football with Lille after a spell in China and won the Ligue 1 title with the club in 2020/21, earning inclusion in the Portugal squad for Euro 2020.
Left-back: Raphael Guerreiro
The French-born full-back was a stand-out performer for Portugal in the tournament, with his attacking performances attracting the attention of Borussia Dortmund who signed Guerreiro in a €12m deal following the tournament.
Unfortunate not to score in the final after hitting the bar with a free-kick in extra-time, he has occasionally been utilised in midfield during his five seasons in the Bundesliga despite the full-back role he occupies for the national side.
Midfield: William Carvalho
Anchoring a midfield diamond, Carvalho was solid and strong during the final victory to protect the Portuguese backline from the dominant hosts.
Carvalho has been a fixture in the national side and has accumulated 66 senior caps, with the midfielder once a regular name amongst Premier League transfer talk before swapping Sporting Lisbon for Real Betis.
Carvalho was suspended for the semi-final win over Wales at Euro 2016, but returned to help his side over the line in the final.
Midfield: Adrien Silva
One of just four players in this XI to have not been included in the Euro 2020 squad, Silva’s career stagnated somewhat after reaching its zenith with European Championship success.
The midfielder made his first appearance in the last-16 win over Croatia and kept his place until the final, though has fallen out of favour in recent years and won the last of his 26 caps in 2018.
Silva signed for Leicester in a £22m deal in 2018, but struggled to adapt to English football, spending time on loan with Monaco before a move to Sampdoria in 2020.
He was subbed in the final on 66 minutes for Joao Moutinho, with the now-Wolves midfielder providing additional energy for the closing stages and extra-time.
Midfield: Renato Sanches
Named as the best young player at Euro 2016, Sanches was brilliant in the final win over France to cement his status as one of the game’s brightest talents.
Sanches’ all-action style saw him shine for the national side throughout the tournament, with Bayern Munich moving quickly to secure the 18-year-old’s future for an initial fee of €35m.
His development since has been inconsistent with a disastrous loan to Swansea followed by a lack of opportunities in Munich, eventually leaving for Lille for a fee of €25m, becoming the club’s record signing.
It has proven a positive move with Sanches flourishing and winning the Ligue 1 title in 2020/21, his performances ensuring his place in Portugal’s squad for this summer’s tournament.
He came off for Eder in the final win over France at Euro 2016, with the former Swansea flop scoring the decisive extra-time winner.
Midfield: Joao Mario
Joao Mario’s best talents were perhaps not showcased in a Portuguese side who went out to stifle France for much of the final, though it was a tactic that proved successful as Fernando Santos’ side emerged victorious.
The midfielder signed for Inter Milan in a €40m deal following the tournament’s conclusion, though struggled to make an impact and has had loan spells with West Ham and Lokomotiv Moscow.
The 28-year-old is currently back on loan with former club Sporting Lisbon and has not been capped by Portugal since 2019.
Nani joined a certain former Manchester United teammate in leading Portugal’s attack and worked tirelessly in the final to create space for those around him, having scored in group stage draws with Iceland and Hungary, in addition to the semi-final win over Wales.
One of the more experienced members of the team, Nani was excellent during the tournament and reached a century of caps for Portugal at Euro 2016, a testament to his longevity at the highest level.
Whilst often accused of failing to fulfil his potential, his list of achievements reads impressively with four Premier League titles, 112 caps and Euro success amongst his accolades.
The 34-year-old currently plays his football in MLS with Orlando City.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo’s final ended in personal agony as the Portugal captain was substituted for Ricardo Quaresma after just 25 minutes, after being unable to shake off the impact of a hefty challenge from Dimitri Payet.
Ronaldo was visibly upset as he left the pitch, though provided animated support from the touchline despite the presence of a heavily-strapped knee.
Ronaldo had scored three goals during Portugal’s run to the final, equalling Michel Platini’s record as the highest-scoring player in European Championship history with nine.
The 36-year-old has since broken that record at this summer’s tournament as Portugal’s 107-goal leading scorer chases further success and Iran’s Ali Daei’s all-time landmark of 109 international goals.
Read Also – Five of the best players from Euro ’96
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The post Remembering the Portugal XI who beat France to win Euro 2016 first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Harry Diamond