Back to… France – Portugal 1984: the benchmark match of the Platini generation

Top 30 of the matches that marked the Euro. Until 2021, “Le Monde” has classified the 30 matches that made the legend of the tournament. In first position, the Blues won an unforgettable semi-final (3-2) in a Stade-Vélodrome in fusion and in front of a young collector led to achieve a good career.

What if this was the Platini generation match? Much more than the final of this same Euro 1984 that it was first necessary not to lose against Spain, this France-Portugal is a Seville 1982 without tears or broken teeth or wicked West-Germans. By its technical level, this semi-final announces Guadalajara two years later , this aesthetic masterpiece offered with the brilliant Brazilian complicity by more than 40 ° C during the Mexican World Cup.

In Marseille, it is hot but good this June 23, 1984. The Stade-Vélodrome has never been so beautiful and colorful. A light mistral waves the thousands of small tricolor flags distributed and the noise echoes in the grandstands open to the sky. For its first participation in the final phase of a Euro, Portugal burned politeness to the FRG in the first round and deprived the Blues of the reunion desired by the players, less by Michel Hidalgo . “I was afraid of facing them, admitted the former coach to L’Equipe in 2016. The players wanted a form of revenge. 

The complexes are forgotten, the Blues walked on the water in the first round with three wins, ten goals scored, including seven by a Michel Platini at the top of his game. And then Portugal is nothing like a scarecrow with its two small goals scored in three games and looks somewhat like a united team.

Indeed, in a country where the clubs pass first, the Benfica players ignore those of Sporting, who hardly speak to those of Porto. Before choosing one or the other, coach Fernando Cabrita must ask for the approval of a technical commission imposed by his federation. “The atmosphere was not very good, there was discomfort among some and great competition to be in the starting lineup” admits defender Alvaro Magalhães.

Bellona: “We could have died”

They ignore it then, but the Portuguese almost won this match without even playing it. A story of bus, already, twenty-six years before the mutineers of Knysna . On the way to the Vélodrome, the driver of the Blues takes a too tight turn on a too narrow departmental road and fails to hit a truck. At 22, Bruno Bellone believes the end has come. “Thank God the driver did not flinch and stayed the course. Otherwise, there are more than half… We could have died, ” assures the attacker, seated next to a Jean Tigana hit in the head by a broken glass after the driver’s window exploded.

Michel Platini (center), June 24, 1984, in Marseille.
Michel Platini (center), June 24, 1984, in Marseille. Alain de Martignac / Icon Sport

The irrational is already in the air. This semi-final will escape all the rules. Even the golden one who wants Platini to reserve exclusive custody of the free kicks. That of the 24 th minute rightful to 22 meters in the axis; Luis Fernandez, Alain Giresse and Jean-François Domergue surround him like three extras. But “Platoche” limped again after crossing the mower Pereira, and Giresse slipped him to give Domergue a chance. You never know with these lefties… Besides, the defender saw the fault in the wall erected by the goalkeeper, Manuel Bento, placed for a right-hander. He dashes and hits the ball from the outside of the foot. Full skylight! Even the director did not understand everything about the film and first captures the face of Platini.

The rest should be a simple formality. “We should have won 3-0, we are above” , will blow the future player of Juve after the meeting. But no, it would be too simple, not French enough. The Blues can not start the second.

A funny guy then enters the scene. His name is Fernando Chalana and has undoubtedly done a lot for the Portuguese shortcut = mustache. Since the beginning of the Euro, this pocket left-hander (whose career Anabela’s wife manages) is the man through whom danger arrives on the Portuguese side. From a caressed center, he finds Rui Jordao’s head for equalization in the 74 th minute.

The same duo does it again during the extension. At the end of a series of feints and hooks, Chalana tries her right foot which still smells new to alert her partner. Become painter and sculptor after his career, Jordao (deceased in 2019) signs a more or less voluntary creation with a resumption of volley with rebound whose trajectory surprises Joël Bats (1-2).

Tigana did not want to go to “penos”

This game they could not lose, the Blues do not know how to win despite the twenty minutes before them. Seville trembles in the heads, even that of Michel Hidalgo, dropped by his eternal optimism. “I then said to myself:” Well here … once again no luck, we’re going to lose … “” The French are struck and just kept alive by a decisive Bats against Néné launched alone against him.

Portugal missed its chance in a late game where the tactics are shattered. Attack-defense, defense-attack, the posts no longer exist and the axial defender Yvon Le Roux transferred by attacking as a backup. At the 114 th minute, the Breton striking an opponent’s foot sends the ball on a Platini looking too the penalty arises when Domergue (2-2). Like Lilian Thuram fourteen years later against Croatia, the left side has chosen his evening (that of his 27 years) to register his only goals in the France team.