In the end, what can be learned from this entire tournament, and the reason Portugal won, is that the coach’s role is the most important! Fernando Santos outsmarted even my former player and today’s French team selector, Didier Deschamps, as well as our own Ante Cacic. We can talk about our splendid performance against Portugal all we want, but the fact remains that we didn’t go through. We managed to keep Portugal at bay, but we sent ourselves home doing it.
Have Portugal deserved this final victory against France? Honestly, I don’t believe so. The French were aggressive, they had their chances at the goal, but they didn’t score. The patient Portuguese finally got their chance and scored. Maybe the French didn’t take enough risks, even if they did play more openly than they usually do. They should have been even more aggressive and taken more risks against Portugal to get in the lead soon as possible.
I keep thinking about our match against Portugal, the chance we had… Never again will we be presented such a chance. I’m afraid we will never again have such a talented generation of footballers either. Look at the Croatian team, then look at Portugal. They only have Ronaldo going for them, we out-perform them in all other positions. But of course, the coach needed to be taken into account and that was the deciding factor.
The true winner of EURO 2016 is a coach, no other than Fernando Santos, who knew which methods to masterfully use against his rivaling coaches. If all the matches could be played again, Portugal’s opponents would probably play in a different style, attacking, with an open guard. But it’s too late now.