France v Romania – Intro
The wait is finally over and the flagship event of European football, the European Championships 2016 will kick-off with host nation France taking on the once-mighty but now-unheralded Romania. This tournament opener will be played at the State de France on Friday, 10th June.
The French squad comes into the tournament high on hopes with the local supporters expecting the team to replicate the feats of 1984 and 1998. Manager Didier Deschamps who knows all too well about the pressure of managing expectations would be equally wary of an early slip-up.
Their 2002 World Cup opener against Senegal was supposed to be a lightweight encounter which turned into a nightmare for the French who eventually crashed out of the tournament disastrously. Although the Euro 2016 format guards them against complacency with 16 teams progressing to second round, France could set a tone for the rest of the tournament with a strong showing in the opener.
Deschamps used a spate of friendlies to gauge his bench strength ahead of the major tournament. The unwanted legal fiasco around Karim Benzema should be quickly forgotten for the team to hit their stride. Luckily for the French manager, the team is filled with exceptionally skilled match winners.
Old timers may have fond memories of Romania but this is just their second major tournament in the last 16 years. To say that the expectations from the Romanians are low, would be an understatement. But, stranger things have happened in football and Romania should be ready to punish any complacency from the hosts.
Romania qualified for the finals in second place from Group F comprising Northern Ireland and Hungary. With knock-out places up for grabs for the third placed finishers also, goal difference will come into play later. This could form the backdrop of Romania’s tactics for the night.
France had a great build-up to the tournament and are on a nine match winning run from their last ten encounters. Question marks over Olivier Giroud’s ability should be ticked off now after his performances against Cameroon and Scotland. The back line will be missing the injured Raphael Varane but Adil Rami should be an ideal replacement. Watch out for the sizzling West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet who could be pushing for a starting berth.
Romania had a quiet but commanding Euro qualifiers conceding just twice from their ten matches. Their problem lies upfront but eight goals in the last two friendlies should keep them in good spirits ahead of the tournament. Manager Anghel Iordanescu would be desperate for his side to mix discipline with aggression.
Key players and team news
Deschamps is spoilt for choice in midfield but two names that stand out are Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet. While Pogba excels as an anchorman Payet sizzles with his strong runs and dead ball skills. Their chemistry would be vital for the French to break through the defensive ranks of Romania. Antoine Griezmann is another key player for the hosts but could face a fight for the starting berth with Kingsley Coman. How spoilt for choice is Deschamps!
Iordanescu on the other hand will be hoping for a far more disciplined approach from his side. Vlad Chiriches may not have made his mark at Tottenham Hotspur but is a key player for his national side. The 26-year-old Romanian captain would be leading the back four and expected to keep Giroud at bay. That could be an exciting play within the play! Watch out for the exciting young midfielder Nicolae Stanciu who could grab eyeballs in this match.
France are in great scoring form having found the back of the net 24 times in their last ten matches. With just one loss of those matches, there is quiet confidence that the Euro 2016 opener can be dealt with easily. Having conceded ten goals in those matches and scoring in all but one, this side leans towards high scoring games.
Romania bask in being a solid defensive unit, notwithstanding their 3-4 defeat to Ukraine. Their record of conceding just twice in the ten qualifiers is testimony to this fact. But their quality upfront is a concern, leaving aside their 5-1 thrashing of Georgia. Six of their last ten matches had fewer than three goals and statistics point towards another low scoring affair.
France are unbeaten in their nine meeting with Romania so far but six of those matches have seen fewer than three goals. The hosts could face a tight struggle but have enough in their ranks to run past the visitors.
France to win 2-0 at 5.0 with Betfred.