By Amjad Baker
Tomorrow’s night is the big boys’ night only when France, the world cup champions, meet Portugal, the outsiders in the Euro 2000 semifinals, at 18:45 GMT in Brussels.
It is an explosive night for both sides. A win will take the winner straight to the finals of the impressive championship to meet the other winning side from the Italy and Holland match to be played on Thursday at 18:45GMT.
For the outsiders, this match is a good chance to reach their first major final in the senior game. Their way to the semis came at Turkey’s expense when they were reduced to 10-man, and the field fell totally into the Portugal’s hands who then thrashed their rivals 2-0.
Two splendid goals from Nuno Gomes destroyed the Turks’ dream.
On the other hand, France had an unforgettable day with the Spaniards who proved themselves to be strong enough for the finals. Bad luck, however, blocked Spain and allowed France to take the last ticket for the semis. The unfortunate Raul paid dearly for his mistake when he missed the golden chance of his match; his shot went a little wide, flew over the crossbar to deny Spain the chance of equalizing and keeping the scoreline at 2-1 in favor of France.
France are fortunate in being able to field Zinedine Zidane who found the way to the Spaniards’ net through a free kick and brought the French side a great deal of luck since he joined the national team in 1998. He helped France to clinch the world cup away from Brazil by his two headers to put France on 2-0, before Emmanuel Petit scored the third in the injury time.
“Zinedine Zidane is the best number 10 in the world,” Dimas complimented the Zidane’s performance, as both were playing together in Juventus.
IT IS ONE WAY GAME
Both parties need to gear-up for tomorrow’s match since the road ahead, which can only take one team, is one way only. One team will score a clear victory, the other will have to queue in a long line for tickets for the finalists match on July 2nd.
Such a stark choice builds unbearable tension and makes the game seem much more difficult than it is. This is especially true for the Portugal since France has not lost even a single match in this Euro Championship.
“It will be a tough game for us,” AFP quoted Portugal’s striker Gomes adding that, the French team “have beautiful defenders.
We must play this game like it was just one of the others.”
Meanwhile, Benfica’s striker refused to highlight this match as a revenge one for their 1984 defeat when, after Portugal were leading 2-1, France equalized, and then Platini’s goal in the extra time gave them a final 3-1 victory.
“I do not think it’s a revenge match but we know the supporters back home want to win this game because of the 1984 match,” but “we want to win the game because of the chance to get into the final,” said Gomes
All Portugal players are fit and ready for “the match against France,” said assistant coach, Adelino Teixeira. Adelino made it clear to the journalist attending Monday’s training conference that “against France we will play very strongly.”
Whereas, France is not a junior team who need to depend on luck, or the other team’s bad performance. The team also has an excellent coach in Roger Lemerre who has an experienced squad at his disposal. The semifinal match with Spain tested their nerves under high pressure – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)