Earlier, European champions Portugal and World champions France lost their perfect records in this season’s UEFA Nations League after playing out a goalless draws against France and Poland respectively. Portugal stays top in Group 3 of League A, ahead of France on goal difference, with both teams on seven points, while Italy is a point above the Netherlands and Poland in Group 1 of League A.
Although the tournament has just started recently, the performance of both champions tells something about their fate in the postponed Euro 2020. Both teams struggled to carve out clear-cut openings in their respective games. It is learnt that European champions Portugal have been drawn in the same group as the last two World Cup winners, Germany and France.
UEFA’s decision to rank the teams according to their result in the qualifiers, combined with Portugal’s performance in their group, meant they ended up among the third seeds while France were one of the second seeds. Under the complex rules, all host nations will play their group games at home, meaning a number of teams had been allocated their groups before the draw.
During the qualification, France clinched their place in the tournament on top of the Group H table and without kicked a ball for a match to determine their spot after Turkey’s qualification in a goalless match against Iceland. Didier Deschamps’ World champions were three points ahead of Iceland in third and qualify by virtue of having a superior head-to-head record.
Les Bleus are currently vice-European champions and World Cup champions, reaching the final of the past major leagues and none of their European neighbours have a better record over the past four years. Didier Deschamps was the captain then; leading the team this summer, he will know exactly how to motivate his players. Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Lloris and Antoine Griezmann will still be the leaders.
Meanwhile, the defending champions Portugal, who won the title in 2016 and followed it up with the inaugural UEFA Nations League crown, secured their spot when they edged past Luxembourg 2-0 away from home in the final day of qualification last year. Bruno Fernandes scored winner in the 39th minute, followed by a late insurance goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 86th.
If Cristiano Ronaldo remains fit and will not show signs of rust until the tournament, they have every shot of retaining their Euro 2016 crown. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the peak of his career and quest for glory during this time. Although not the key person to net the winning goal, Ronaldo was the captain of Portugal’s surprise winners of Euro 2016.
Despite the poor display in their latest game, these champions have a year to improve and defend their champion status. The European Championship, which was set to be held across Europe – Azerbaijan, UK, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Romania, Scotland– to mark UEFA’s 60th anniversary will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021.