Best Odds: 10/11
The Euro 2016 finals kick off with hosts France taking on minnows Romania, and we have absolutely no doubts Les Bleus will be looking to start the campaign with a bang. The Tricolorii, on the other hand, will need to repeat the performance from the March friendly vs Spain if they are to stand any chance of avoiding defeat at Stade de France.
Even if France automatically qualified as tournament hosts, Didier Deschamps did not have an easy job selecting 23 players from such a large talent pool, while he also needed quite a while to nail down his preferred starting line-up. With Karim Benzema, Mathieu Valbuena, Raphael Varane and Lassana Diarra all missing, the likes of Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet, Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante are all expected to be in the starting line-up, but while the jury is still out on the Sevilla defender, the other three players could prove even better solutions than the ones they replaced. Les Bleus have been thoroughly impressive in final warm-up games, especially in the attacking phase, which is enough they are ready for the showpiece tournament, and we don’t see how weak Romania are going to prevent them from winning the tournament opener. Even though Didier Deschamps still needs to patch up the leaky defence, the reality is that his side can create chances without any problems, and while they work really well as the team, the individual quality of Pogba, Griezmann and Payet is also going to help in case things do not go as planned at some stage.
Real Madrid star Karim Benzema missed out on the France Euro 2016 squad due to suspension, whereas Raphael Varane and Lassana Diarra had to withdraw through injury.
Samuel Umtiti and Morgan Schneiderlin were then added to the squad, while it is important to note there are no selection worries ahead of the Romania game.
Romania national team enjoyed plenty of success during the 90’s, qualifying for four successive major competitions, but they have largely struggled since the turn of the century. The Tricolorii no longer have footballers playing important roles in top European clubs, while their domestic championship lacks quality, so it is not that surprising that the national team have failed to impress of late. Romania somehow managed to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals, but we shouldn’t forget they were in by far the weakest group, and they could only score 11 goals in 10 qualifiers. Granted, they went through the qualifying campaign unbeaten, conceding mere two goals in the process, but with Northern Ireland and Hungary the other two sides to have progressed from the same group, everybody can see that the Tricolorii were not properly tested in the qualifiers. That is going to change now that they are facing arguably the strongest side in the competition, and even though Anghel Iordanescu’s side showed some promise in the final warm-up games, they cannot be trusted to match the star-studded France team.
Southampton defender Florin Gardos has failed to make the cut after missing a large chunk of the season through injury, with Dorin Goian, Alexandru Maxim and Ciprian Marica also overlooked.
Cordoba striker Florin Andone is likely to be preferred to Claudiu Keseru up front, while Vlad Chiriches should return to the side after recovering from injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Romania have never beaten France (D5 L4)
- Les Bleus kept a clean sheet in five of those nine meetings
- France won last four friendly games
- Les Bleus scored at least three goals in each of those games
- Giroud scored four goals in last four outings for France
France have been thoroughly impressive of late and with all key men available for selection, they can be trusted to record a comfortable win at Stade de France. Romania lack the quality and experience to play at this level and we seriously doubt they will be able to survive the opening 45 minutes without conceding at least once.
Best Odds: 10/11