Host France take on Romania in the opening fixture of Euro 2016 on Friday evening seeking a strong start under a weight of fans’ expectations.
The hosts are tournament favourites and will be looking to start things off on the right foot when they welcome the Romanians to the Stade de France. Les Blues will be hoping for a repeat of the 1984 edition of the tournament, when they cruised to a 2-0 victory over Spain in the final on home soil.
France will be looking to justify their favourites tag by laying down a marker in their opening fixture. The side have been in imperious form in their warm-up games for the tournament as they surged to wins over the Netherlands (3-2), Russian (4-2), Cameroon (3-2) and Scotland (3-0). With the side managing three or more goals in each of those games, Les Blues’ defence is likely to be their Achilles heel. The French conceded twice in three out of four of those warm-up matches.
‘The less the occasion weighs on the players, the better,’ France manager Didier Deschamps told Uefa.com.
‘It’s important to be back in competition football. Our last official game was the quarter-final against Germany at the World Cup. This [game] should set the tone for the whole tournament,’ he added.
Romania, for their part, dominated Georgia 5-1 in the latest of their warm-up games. The Romanians will be hopeful of a return to that form in their encounter with the French. The side are ranked as high as 22nd in the world by Fifa, just five places off France in 17th.
‘We are up against one of the best teams in the tournament, among the favourites. I hope and believe our players will do their best to show everybody that we have a good team, a worthy team capable of putting in a good performance,’ said Romania coach Anghel Iordănescu.
‘The objective is to qualify, to get through the group, and make a very good impression at the same time,’ he concluded.
Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Payet
Tătăruşanu; Săpunaru, Chiricheş, Grigore, Raţ; Hoban, Pintilii; Popa, Stanciu, Stancu; Keșerü
Doubtful: Filip (ankle)
The match gets underway at 21:00.