At the very end, in a northerly direction, on Budapest's Magareten Island lies the Grand Hotel. A magnificent facility with its own landing stage, the walls could serve as the backdrop for a stirring feature film from the Middle Ages, some of the trees in the associated garden are so old. Their dense foliage would actually already provide enough privacy protection, yet another opaque green fence has been erected around the entire hotel grounds. Grim guards patrol, don't quite want to fit in with the cheerful people who cavort here.
Ronaldo with a chance of setting the next record
Somewhere in the Grand Hotel sleeps Cristiano Ronaldo (36), and it is an open secret that the superstar of Portugal is dreaming of using this pan-European tournament to give the soccer world its next record. Two more goals and he'll be on 109 international goals – and on a par with Iran's Ali Daei. Ronaldo's next opportunity comes today not far from his magnificent residence, at the Puskas Arena, against France (9 p.m./MagentaTV) when the curtain rises on the match between European and world champions.
The Portuguese must be shaking after the 2:4 defeat against Germany. The focus on "our strengths" is demanded by coach Fernando Santos, who gives as little insight into his emotional life as into his base camp. The defending champions can advance with a draw, but the French, who have already qualified for the round of 16, are not expected to give them any presents, as the match inevitably takes us back five years on the timeline. On the 2016 European Championship final, when Ronaldo, wracked by pain, chased by the cameras felt more often than the ball, could no longer after 25 minutes. What he did, especially in France, not everyone liked: cheering on his spoilsports like a Rumplestiltskin, engaging the hosts in a battle of attrition to strike mercilessly for once. 109. Minute, distance shot Eder. Not everyone has yet recovered from the shot in the French heart at the home tournament.
Antoine Griezmann, 30, was an outstanding figure at the European Championship for a long time, but in the end he didn't know what to do either. Alongside goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, 34, and Paul Pogba, 28, the attacking midfielder is the only player who was a starter under national coach Didier Deschamps at the time and still is today. Meanwhile, Griezmann occupies a spot as a suspended leader and already looked ahead to the prestigious pairing on Sunday in Budapest. Griezmann now even called Ronaldo a "role model for all young players" and – because of his age – an inspiration to everyone. Otherwise, he is less interested in revenge than in a reaction after the sluggish performance against Hungary (1:1).
Kylian Mbappe as a beacon of hope
France's counterpart to Ronaldo in 2021 is Kylian Mbappe. So far, the 22-year-old is still waiting for his first European Championship goal. Nevertheless, he was still best on Saturday in the Puskas Arena, because most active Frenchman. Moreover, he is unburdened by the losing history.
Even those who were at the 10. July 2016 were on the bright side, prefer to deal with the present before the rematch of the European Championship final. Ronaldo's best buddy, defensive star Pepe, 38, says: "We have to take Germany as an example. They were already happy when they got a corner. They wanted to beat us. And we must follow suit. We must want it as much as Germany."