It’s one out of two. It’s the final hurdle. It’s a chance for eternal glory. And everyone has a favourite.

Your country’s made it to the final. You’ve waited for this moment all your life (or since your last mega-tournament final). You definitely have a favourite. Perhaps you worship a particular footballer, have made an ideal of him and can’t bear to see him (and you) lose. Perhaps there are players from the club team you support playing for a particular nation, making you fond of them, making you wish the players would come back for the club season in high spirits.

Maybe you just admire the footballing style of a particular country, a traditional and nostalgic attachment, or a more recent infatuation. Maybe you loved the country and its people when you visited last summer, maybe you loved the food. Maybe social pressures force you to watch. The media tells you who the favourites are. The room, pub, club seems full of people supporting that country. An in-game bias builds, and you’re pleased when your recently chosen team is in the ascendancy. Everyone has a favourite.

Road to the final – France and Portugal

France and Portugal. A behemoth and a relatively tiny giant of European football. France are World Cup winners and two-time European Championship winners. Portugal have flattered to deceive with semi-final appearances at the World Cup and a shock runners-up finish at the hands of minnows Greece in the 2004 European Championship. They haven’t even managed an Olympic medal, considered a relatively easier target, with France winning the gold in the 1984 edition.

In the European Championship of 2016, Portugal are considered by many to be lucky to have reached the final in the first place. As fate would have it, the team with a "small mentality", Iceland, bumped them down to third place after scoring the winner in the last minute against Austria, and Portugal thus had to face Croatia, Poland and Wales as opposed to England, France and Germany.

They were barely convincing in most of these games, finally scoring their first goal of the tournament in normal time in the semi-final against Wales. A salmon like leap from Cristiano Ronaldo saw him score his third goal of the Euros as he hauled them into their first major tournament final in 12 years. That night, the 19-year-old Ronaldo was left weeping in the middle of the pitch by Angelos Charisteas and his band of obdurate Greeks.

France have had a very good tournament in relative terms, going unbeaten and scoring 13 goals in all, six of them by the waspishly brilliant Antoine Griezmann. They faced their toughest opponents in Germany in the semi-finals, and arguably were second best for a lot of the game. However, they refused to wilt mentally, beating the Germans by making the most of the chances that came their way. Germany and Bastian Schweinsteiger dealt themselves with a psychological blow they would never recover from, and were left to count the what-ifs.

Talking tactics – France

Against Germany, Didier Deschamps surprisingly decided to go with an unchanged line-up from their quarter-final against Iceland, which France won 5-2. The move to stick with 4-4-2 looked to have backfired quite dramatically as a technically excellent and rapid-passing Germany carved out gaping holes in the French final third, particularly in the first half. Neither France nor Germany really know what their best combination really is. With France, the problems are largely to do with an good depth of talent and quality in their squad, while the Germany aren’t quite as lucky with their back-up options.

Deschamps has flitted from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, not quite finding a system he is truly comfortable with. If he sticks with a 4-4-2 again, chances are he could play into the hands of the Portuguese, who prefer a strange 4-1-3-2 formation, and could find themselves with space between the lines.

Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba are both excellent footballers, but neither can quite do justice to the role N’Golo Kante does for the French. He mops up behind the midfield, races about the pitch and tackles opponents with the single-minded will of Pac-man chasing pac-dots. He could still miss out on starting in the final.

A 4-3-3 with Kante in the team would see Griezmann shunted to the right, which could be a massive attacking sacrifice given the form the Atletico Madrid man is in.

Deschamps thus faces an interesting dilemma. Approach with caution and give the opponents respect, or back his men to do a better job than they did against Germany, and rely on the attacking might of Payet, Griezmann, Pogba and Co. to provide the killer thrust.

Talking tactics – Portugal

Many have compared Portugal 2016 to Greece 2004. A limited, resilient team capable of sitting back and absorbing pressure and nicking a goal through a set piece or an opposition error.

Portugal line up in a 4-1-3-2 and William Carvalho should return to his role as the wall in front of his defence. Even so, containing Pogba and Griezmann might be beyond him, thus Fernando Santos, the Portugese coach, could well play Danilo alongside him. Veterans Ricardo Carvalho and Bruno Alves could start, in the absence of Pepe, who is a doubt for the game.

The midfield three in front of him have been enthusiastic, but haven’t shown much by way of promising passing movement in the opponents half yet. They seem content to attack existing space as opposed to creating pockets and unsettling the opposition.

Nani up front has performed creditably, holding the ball well and coaxing his young midfield forward. Cristiano Ronaldo could be key from a set-piece situation and he will definitely be the biggest threat to a shaky French defence.

A final to remember?

In all probability, this will not be a breathtakingly open contest. The home crowd at the Stade de France in Paris will be roaring their team on and Portugal will look to kill all excitement off in the first half. A fractious, stop-start, battling first half followed by a nervous, fidgety second if France fail to get the breakthrough, or if Portugal do.

An early goal for either team would make this encounter an extremely lively affair. Chances are that a set-piece could well decide this game.

France may well be the media favourites, but the intense expectations might just inspire an almighty choke, and Ronaldo and Portugal’s will might just outlast their flashy opponents skill.

It’s one out of two. It’s for the title. You may think you’re neutral. But everyone has a favourite.