Didier Deschamps’ men are favorites for the tournament and will be looking to get off to a good start against a plucky Tricolori team managed by legend Anghel Iordanescu.
France take on Romania in the Euro 2016 curtain raiser in Paris on June 10 at 3:00PM ET.
Les Blues boss is remaining coy on how he will line up in the opening game against Romania. He is also seeking to lift pressure from golden boy Paul Pogba who is already being touted as the tournaments best player.
Anghel Iordanescu meanwhile has much more modest expectations of him and his team. Romania hoping to enjoy the spectacle of participating in the tournaments first match and are targeting an unlikely Group A escape at Euro 2016.
The French defensive line up has come into some criticism in the build up to Euro 2016. France are likely to settle with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Sevilla’s Adil Rami as their center back pairing. Defenders Mahamadou Sakho, Raphael Varane and Jermey Mathieu have all been ruled out for the duration of the summer tournament.
La Selection will probably line up in the same way as they have in recent friendlies, with Giroud, Pogba, Payet and Griezmann playing key roles. It is however possible that Martial could be favored over Payet.
Romania had a full-strength pool of players to choose from when naming their squad. Alibec, Andone and Keseru are all in competition for the sole striker role. Nicolae Stanicu is pressing for a starting berth while Popa could to be selected in order to offer pace on the wings.
France boss Didier Deschamps has tried in vain to lift the pressure of being the host nation away from his stars. A lot of that attention has fallen on midfielder Paul Pogba whom he expects to do his job for the team.
“I am happy with Pogba. People expect him to score a hat-trick and to entertain the crowd with tricks. But he is a midfielder. He can score goals, but he has another job to do as well,” the France boss told L’Equipe.
“He has extraordinary technical qualities, but he’s not there to do crazy things each time he touches the ball. He has to find the right balance. He knows that the team sometimes needs him in a bit more neutral role. He can be useful and efficient in that role.”
The France boss is also delighted with the progress that Antoine Greizmann has made over recent years. The Atletico Madrid forward has impressed the former-Juventus and Monaco coach who is still is illusive in revealing who will make it into the starting XI when Les Blues kick off against Romania.
“Griezmann is happy,” Deschamps said to L’Equipe ahead of the match. “He had a long season with Atletico and our main priority was to give him some rest before the start of the tournament.
“Antoine has certain qualities that make him one of the best attackers around in Europe. He has always been a good player, but he has become more consistent. He will be ready, but he will not necessarily be the leader of our attack. I have six attackers with a lot of quality and with different profiles.”
Romania boss Angel Iordanescu is bursting with pride after guiding his country to a major tournament. He revealed that he thought his managerial career was finished before signing up for another spell with the national team.
“ I thought my career was over”, the 66-year-old told Marca. “I never thought I would come back but I had to accept the offer.”
Iordanescu has taken Romania to two World Cups in 1994 and 1998 as well as the European Championships in 1996. This time around he says his team must target the knockouts and has mixed feelings about facing the tournament favorites.
“We want to get past the group stage,” he said.
“When you’re drawn with a team of such pedigree as France, you realize you’re not in an easy group. I wanted to avoid France but the game will be a great event for Romania because the whole world will be watching.”
France has met Romania on 15 occasions throughout history. France has won seven, Romania five while the remaining five have ended in draws.
The last time the two teams met was in Bucharest in 2011 during Euro 2012 qualification. The score in Romania was 0-0. France had already beaten Romania 2-0 in the Paris tie month before. Remy and Gourcuff scored late goals in that victory to give the French the three points.
France and Romania have met twice in major tournaments. In 1996 Christophe Dugarry score the only goal in a 1-0 France win at St. James’ Park in Newcastle during the Euro 96 group stages. 12 years later at Euro 2008 the sides met in the group stages of the competition once again where the sides drew 0-0 in Zurich.
Hosts France warmed up for Euro 2016 with victories in each of their last four friendlies. Striker Olivier Giroud earned a standing ovation for his brace in the 3-0 victory against Scotland in their last match.
France also beat Cameroon 3-2, Russia 4-2 and Holland 3-2. Conceding so many goals has put pressure on the defense and raised suspicion over them being named the bookmaker’s favorites to win the tournament.
Romania meanwhile beat Georgia 5-1 in their last warm up game before Euro 2016. They were 2-0 up after three minutes and scored another three in the second half. Popa, Stanicu, Torje, Keseru and a Georgia own goal all made the score sheet.
Romania’s normally sturdy defense did concede four goals to Ukraine in the game before that. With the game tied 1-1 at half time, Ukraine raced to 4-1 lead. Late goals form Alibec and Stanicu could not rescue Romania as the match ended 4-3.
France qualified for Euro 2016 as hosts, but in an innovative invention by UEFA they still took part in qualification Group I where their games were treated as friendlies. They won eight out of ten games scoring 20 goals in the process.
Romania finished second in their qualification group and secured their place in France with 3-0 in the Faroe Islands. Despite navigating through the series of qualifiers undefeated they ended the campaign behind the surprisingly good Northern Ireland.
France: Lloris; Digne, Varane, Koscielny, Evra; Matuidi, Diarra, Pogba; Payet, Giroud, Griezmann.
Romania: Tătărușanu; Mățel, Chiricheș, Grigore, Raț; Hoban, Pintilii; Torje, Stanicu, Maxim; Keșerü.
France 0-0 Romania – 9/1
France 2-0 Romania – 7/2
France 0-1 Romania – 22/1
France 4-0 Romania – 12/1
France 3-1 Romania – 12/1
Griezmann and Pogba both to score – 8/1
Olivier Giroud to Score and France to Win – 13/8
Nicolae Stanciu to Score and Romania to Win – 40/1