France carry hopes of a nation against Ronaldo's Portugal
Final: France v Portugal (tomorrow, 8pm, live on BBC One, UTV, RTE Two & TV3)
FRANCE midfielder Blaise Matuidi says his squad have been afforded tantalising glimpses of what it will mean to the host nation if they beat Portugal tomorrow to be crowned European champions in Paris.
Tucked away in their training base at Clairefontaine, their only insight into the fervour currently gripping their legions of supporters has been during the matches themselves or through television.
And Matuidi believes it is imperative to keep the sense of achievement at bay until Didier Deschamps’ men have finally completed their journey at the Stade de France tomorrow night.
Matuidi told Uefa.com: “At Clairefontaine just about all we see is trees. But on match days and when we watch TV we can see just how excited the country is. I think it will all sink in afterwards. We are focused on the final first, and then we can look back at our memories of July 10 and what had gone before.
“Sunday will not be a normal day, even if we want it to be. The final of the Euros will be an exceptional moment for us and we have to make the most of it. We have to say to ourselves that this is the final step to climb.
“I’m not going to hide it, I’m tired. But I’m excited and happy the match is coming round so quickly. Waiting another week for it would have been difficult.”
Paris St Germain star Matuidi has been the subject of fresh speculation about his future after recently indicating he is seeking a move out of France and rumours he is going to become Jose Mourinho’s latest signing at Manchester United.
But for now he admits he is focused solely on knuckling down under Deschamps, who is set to achieve as a manager what he first achieved as a player if his team overcome the Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portuguese tomorrow.
Matuidi added: “Deschamps has won things everywhere he’s been. He can sometimes be hard on us, but we have evolved in the right way since he took over and we are reaping the fruits of that work.
“I don’t think there are favourites in the final. Portugal have had a great competition so far and us as well. I think since the Ireland game something has come together for us, and we are playing better football."