Euro 2016 final preview: France seek to make home advantage count again

French players celebrate after beating Germany 2-0 in the Euro 2016 semi-final football match.
French players celebrate after beating Germany 2-0 in the Euro 2016 semi-final football match. PHOTO: AFP

If there is one team that knows how to win on home soil, it is France.

Following their 2-0 semi-final victory over world champions Germany, France are set to become the first European nation to take part in three major tournament finals at home.

Should they defeat Portugal on Sunday (Monday morning, Singapore time), they will win their third straight major tournament title as hosts after triumphs at Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup.

Being hosts leads to extra pressure on the team, and not many sides have thrived under added expectations.

Since the inaugural European Championship in 1960, just three of the last 14 hosts have lifted the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Spain (1964) and Italy (1968) are the other two.

 
 

At the World Cup, only six of the 20 hosts won football's biggest prize on home soil. The last hosts Brazi suffered a humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals.

But France captain Hugo Lloris revealed that Les Bleus enjoy playing in front of a partisan crowd.

"We can profit from that support," Lloris told the Daily Mirror before the tournament started. "We are not really favourites, but because we are playing at home, of course, it gives us more chances. The supporters will be a great help to us.

"Sometimes the culture of the support is different. It wasn't a great help to Brazil two years ago in the World Cup. But we can make the fans proud of us."

France are unbeaten in their last 18 major tournament games played at home, winning 16 and drawing two. Their last defeat dates back to 1960 against Czechoslovakia.

Their record in major tournament games at the final venue - the Stade de France - is also stellar. They have won five times and drawn once there - a goal-less stalemate against Italy at the 1998 World Cup. France went on to defeat the Azzurri on penalties.

Portugal have only ever tasted defeat at France's national stadium. The last two trips to the Stade de France in Paris for friendly matches ended with losses (4-0 in April 2001 and 2-1 in October 2014).

Les Bleus have extra motivation to emerge victorious in the decider too. Eight months ago, they were playing Germany in a friendly match at the Stade de France when attacks on Paris targets included the stadium. The attacks left 130 dead and hundreds more injured.

France manager Didier Deschamps wants his side to give the nation reason to celebrate.

"We don't have the power to solve the French people's problems but we can ease their worries," he said. "The players are well aware of that power, and what they can give to the French people by wearing these colours."

France's road to the final

- Group stage:

France 2-1 Romania

France 2-0 Albania

France 0-0 Switzerland

- Round of 16:

France 2-1 Republic of Ieland

- Quarter-final:

France 5-2 Iceland

- Semi-final:

France 2-0 Germany