Football: Soccer-France to use Portugal match to boost confidence ahead of last 16, says Lloris


BUDAPEST (Reuters) – France are eager to use their final Group F match against Portugal in Budapest on Wednesday to boost their confidence before they advance to the knockout stage of the European championship, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said.

France, who lost to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final, are already through to the last 16 and will finish first in the group if they win, or if they draw and Germany fail to beat Hungary in the group’s other match on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference, Lloris, the captain, said the team was focused on a solid performance against Portugal that would carry them into the next stage.

“We cannot calculate our efforts and the results to come,” he said. “I think that the goal is to play the match to win it in order keep up the good momentum and continue to gain confidence for the new competition that begins in the last 16.”

Lloris said France’s stinging 1-0 loss to Portugal in overtime in the final of the last Euros had helped the team win the World Cup two years later.

Portugal have more at stake than France in Wednesday’s match, as they will go through to the next stage if they avoid defeat. In a tight points race, however, Portugal could also finish first in the group if they win and Germany do not.

“We had some difficulties against the Germans and the Hungarians,” Lloris said. “It will be difficult. This is high-level play, whoever the opponent is.”

In their last match, France beat Portugal 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League in November, which French manager Didier Deschamps said both sides would analyse going into Wednesday.

“Portugal’s strengths are the same,” Deschamps said. “They know us too. In any case it will be a high-level match.”

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in St Petersburg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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