So, the wait is finally over! Euro 2016 kicks off today with hosts France taking on Romania at the Stade de France.
France, favourites for the tournament (16/5 odds on favourite with Paddy Power), go into the game on the back of four straight victories.
Defending seems to be a slight problem, only winning games purely by outscoring their opponents, namely Russia and Cameroon, with both victories being 3-2. These defensive issues could be down to injuries to key defenders like Jeremy Mathieu and Raphaël Varane, with replacements Samuel Umtiti and Adil Rami coming into the squad, the latter likely to partner Laurent Koscielny in central defence.
The amount of talent in the French squad shows that they can go far in the tournament, players such as Leicester’s N’Golo Kanté and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet are expected to start, with regulars such as Captain Hugo Lloris and, my personal man to watch, Paul Pogba.
Romania, clear outsiders for this match, are heading into the game with two wins, two draws and a defeat in their last five games. However, one of those draws notably was at home to defending champions Spain. Captain, Vlad Chiricheș, has declared himself fit and ready to play, despite missing the final warm-up game, a 5-1 win against Georgia.
Romania will be hoping for a good performance from one of their key players and highest goalscorer in the squad of 23, Gabriel Torje. France will have to stop the link-up between Torje and Bogdan Stancu, a player would I wouldn’t be surprised bags a couple of goals during the group stage.
Goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu will have to compose himself for later tonight as I think it’s obvious he’ll have a pretty busy night. Romania know they’re clear underdogs going into the game, something that might benefit them as they can play with no fear. If they manage to steal a point, it’ll surely put them in pole position to get out the group in third place.
Predicted starting XI’s:
France: Lloris, Evra, Rami, Koscielny, Sagna, Kante, Pogba, Matuidi, Payet, Martial, Giroud
Romania: Tătărușanu, Grigore, Rat, Chiricheș, Sapunaru, Stanciu, Torje, Chipciu, Pintilii, Andone, Stancu
Odds: (provided by Paddy Power)
France 2-0 Romania (Giroud, Payet)
(5/1 with Paddy Power)
Do you agree with my predictions? What do you think the score will be? Let us know on Twitter @OfficialTFF or me personally @kieranmoss97.
France vs Romania, Live on ITV1, coverage starts from 7:15pm, Kick-off at 8:00pm GMT at the Stade de France