Euro 2016: France v Romania - Expert v Expert Preview


With the weight of a nation already on their shoulders, France enter this competition as the favourites to lift the trophy on July 10th.

Just to pile on a little more pressure, Les Bleus have won every game of a major tournament on home soil, culminating in a Euro 84 victory and the World Cup win of 1998.  They simply have to win this opener and standing in their way are a resolute Romanian outfit, who conceded just two goals in qualifying.

We have French football supremo Julien Laurens laying down the law on all things France, plus 62 cap former Romanian international Ilie Dumitrescu assesses his side’s chances.

 

TEAM NEWS

Julien Laurens on France: Didier Deschamps has all his players available and will pick his strongest team for this game on Friday evening. It will be a 4-3-3 formation, as usual, with the same back five for the third game running, with Lloris in goal, Sagna and Evra as full-backs and the makeshift pair of Rami and Koscielny in the centre. They have only played together twice for France and looked a bit dodgy against Cameroon in a friendly ten days ago.

In midfield, N'Golo Kanté is continuing his impressive season. He will play in the holding role with Matuidi on his left and Pogba on his right. Pogba will be higher up the pitch than Matuidi offensively. Finally, for the front three; Deschamps decided to pick Payet ahead of Martial on the left wing to partner Giroud and Griezmann.

Ilie Dumitrescu on Romania: Romania prepares for its fourth appearance at a European final. Their best result was back in 2000, when under Emerich Ienei we reached the quarter finals, qualifiying alongside Portugal, from a group where England and Germany crashed out.

Steliano Filip suffered an injury the week before this game against France, but he is still with the squad. Another important player with medical issues is Florin Andone, who probably will be used, even after suffering an arm injury in the game against Georgia. Overall, coach Iordanescu doesn’t have any major problems in his team.

The atmosphere in the squad is a good one. That is evident from the amusing interview given by Gabriel Torje to the newspaper Marca. He declared “We’ve got the feeling of a woman before her own wedding”. 

 

FORM

 Laurens: France have won 13 or their last 14 games and their only defeat came at Wembley in very difficult circumstances back in November 2015. Les Bleus are high on confidence and momentum at the moment. They won their two pre-tournament friendlies against Cameroon (3-2) and Scotland (3-0), each with a team very similar to the one that will start on Friday. Olivier Giroud is the man of the moment. He has now scored seven goals in his last eight caps, four in his last four.

Dumitrescu: Romania were the first team to arrive in France. The squad ended their friendly games with a 5-1 win at home against Georgia, a team that then beat Spain.

Before beating Georgia, Romania played friendly games against Ukraine in Italy, losing 4-3, and one against Democratic Republic of Congo ended 1-1. Prior to this they also registered draws with Spain and Italy, as well as a victory over Lithuania.

 

KEY MAN

Laurens: More than Griezmann, Lloris, Payet or Kanté, France's main man will be Paul Pogba. His talent is incredible and he needs to carry this team and to lead by example. He will play in a more advanced role offensively when France have the ball, with hope of creating something special. He delivered a wonderful assist for Giroud against Cameroon, for example. But he needs to be more consistent in his performances for the national team and raise his game to the highest level.

Dumitrescu: Steaua Bucharest youngster Nicusor Stanciu is going through a great period with the national squad, scoring four in his last five outings. Being positioned behind the forward, Stanciu still manages to find space, and his long range shooting is a weapon he’s not afraid to use. He will be a real threat against a France team that has conceded at least two goals in three of their last four matches.

 

SURE THING

Laurens: With France, the danger will come from everywhere. Kosciely and Rami are good on set pieces that Payet will deliver perfectly and Pogba and Matuidi will make the runs from midfield. Payet is in the form of his life and so are Griezmann and Giroud. And from the bench, you can always bring on Coman or Martial! They have scored at least three goals in their last four international matches (Holland, Russia, Cameroon, Scotland). So France will score over 2.5 goals at 2.60.

Dimitrescu: France having more shots on target than Romania at 1.12 looks the nailed on for me. It isn’t a big number, but being aware of the defensive tactics that Iordanescu will use, it is almost certain that the home side will dominate the game.

 

LONG SHOT

Laurens: Bacary Sagna will play his 58th game for France against Romania and has never scored a goal for his country! So I can see him finally netting one at 17.00.

Dimitrescu: A type of bet with big chances, at some generous odds, involves former Spurs man Vlad Chiriches. The odds on him receiving a card are 3.00. There’s going to be a huge pressure on the captain’s shoulders with the attacking trio of Griezmann, Giroud and Payet and he could come unstuck at some point.

 

SCORE PREDICTION

Laurens: France 3-0 Romania at 7.00

Dimitrescu: France 0-0 Romania at 9.00