With Pepe fit, Portugal are ready to take on their critics

A French fan celebrates in Marseilles after France beat Germany in the semi-final

A French fan celebrates in Marseilles after France beat Germany in the semi-final

"But it's one thing being a commentator - it's entirely different to be on the pitch and lead the team".

Both sides will be playing in the final after 2-0 wins in the semi-finals.

However, the Sporting midfielder Joao Mario - who has started all but one of Portugal's Euro 2016 fixtures - believes they can spring a surprise.

Portugal, on the other hand, don't have much to hang their hats on - they've never won a major worldwide tournament.

The 22-year-old left-back has impressed at Euro 2016 after playing just once in Portugal's eight-match qualifying program.

"It was hard because it was the end". "We don't think about this type of criticisms. we want to win to make the Portuguese happy and go down in history".

Portugal limped out of the last World Cup in the group stage, while Euro 2016 qualifying opened with an embarrassing 1-0 loss to Albania and coach Paulo Bento submitted his resignation. "But we can generate emotions so they forget their worries".

Ronaldo trudged off the field in tears that night.

"I feel great. I'm fully fit and can be chosen to play tomorrow", he told a press conference at Stade de France.

And on Portugal's side is the fact that two other long-running hexes have been broken at the Euros.

They have been the below-radar candidate, their prospects only opening up definitively when Wales beat Belgium with such surprising comfort in the quarter-finals, and now they find themselves a step away from glory with one of the world's most potent weapons at their disposal.

Mathias Vicherat, the Paris Mayor's chief of staff, said some 1,900 police and other security officers would patrol the fan zone, while the city's police chief, Michel Cadot, said 3,400 officers would patrol the Champs-Elysees, some of them redeployed from the stadium and fan zone after the final kicks off.

"We are aware of our past defeats against France, but that can give us extra strength and motivation".

Les Bleus can also rely on passionate support from home fans desperate for something to celebrate after going through strikes and violent protests against a labor law, as well as a state of emergency still in force since November past year, when militants killed 130 people in Paris at several sites including the Stade de France, the venue for today's final.

"We've yet to win anything but it's the final".

Portugal has lost its last ten games against France, whose Antoine Griezmann is the competition's top scorer with six goals.

As for the final, Ronaldo said hosts France might be favourites, but as he learned the hard way in Lisbon in 2004, the home ground advantage does not always guarantee a win.

That could hinge on whether Pepe recovers from the thigh muscle injury that kept him out of the 2-0 victory over Wales.

"Now we are in the final again and we hope we will win it. I hope that we'll be smiling and that it will be tears of joy in the end".

What to expect: This final is France's to lose.

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