Finally the EURO 2016 tournament is about to commence and we have the host France ready to kick things off against dark horses Romania.
France are coming into this game with some controversy already in the air as manager Didier Deschamps stood by the French FA's decision to ban star striker Karim Benzema from the tournament. Benzema was involved in the blackmail of former international teammate Valbuena and for the FA made the decision to exclude Benzema from inclusion for the sake of the team. France are the favourites for the competition and with home advantage and a star studded team it is easy to see why. Deschamps has some decisions to make up front with three to start from Coman, Giroud, Payet Greizmann and Martial. Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba will probably be the key to the attack at the apex of a midfield triangle. Leicester City's box to box man Kante will hold the middle and allow Pogba to roam. Overall this looks like a well balanced French side but there is no doubt they will miss the talents of Real Madrid frontman Benzema. France have a lot of talent but will also have a lot of pressure from the French public. France last won a major International title in the Euro 2000 campaign and both the team and public will be hoping they can bring that drought to an end on home soil.
Romania come into this game in fine form with credible draws against Italy and Spain in recent friendlies. Something of an unknown package to those who don't pay close attention to the qualifiers this is a squad that could definitely cause some upsets.Romania went through the entire qualification unbeaten and were the only team to beat Northern Ireland in the Group stages. While it was something of a weak group it was still an impressive feat. Goals have been a problem for Romania though and they only managed 11 in their 10 qualifying games. Stancu, Torje and Popa will be key men going forward for Romania and Stancu had an impressive season in Turkey last year. Defensively though Romania will be tough to break down. Former Tottenham defender Chirches and former Manchester City goalkeeper Pantilimon will form the axis at the back which will be trying to stop this very talented French squad.
I think this game has the potential to be a real let down game for France. Romania will try to pack their midfield and defence and force France to play the ball around them in order to break them down. Well organised and defensively tough to beat Romania will set out to get a draw in the opener and may have the ability to frustrate France for long periods here. I'm going to take the unders in what should be an interesting tactical battle, if France fail to get the win you can be sure the French media will be asking where is Benzema.