European Championship Stories: 1984 – Le Veritable Roi Michel

They’ve been playing for one hundred and nineteen minutes on this balmy Mediterranean evening at le Stade Velodrome in Marseille and nothing, so far, has been able to separate the two teams. France, who sailed through the group stages of the 1984 European Championships, have surprisingly met their match in Portugal, who, prior to this summer, have not reached the finals of a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup. The two sides are locked together at two goals apiece, with a heroic performance from the Portuguese goalkeeper Manuel Bento having kept them at bay. For France, who just two years earlier had lost the first ever penalty shoot-out in a World Cup finals match to West Germany, a repeat beckons. Jean Tigana, the elegant midfielder who makes up one quarter of le carrĂ© magique, the “magic square” that is the engine room of this team’s success, collects the ball just inside the Portugal half of the pitch. He attempts a through-ball but a desperate lunge intercepts his pass. Tigana, however, has continued his forward momentum and picks the ball up again, and with one final burst of energy heads towards the right-hand touchline with it. Once there, he pulls the ball back, across the face of goal. It’s not a perfect pass, but it is enough to beat Bento’s dive. On the edge of the six yard area...

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