Game of the Day: France vs. Romania, Paris, 20.00
Here we are, about to begin of the one of the best months of the year, Euro 2016. And what better way to start The Sweeper’s ‘GAME OF THE DAY’ than with the hosts on the opening night.
France vs Romania.
The omens seem good for France who have a somewhat magical relationship between hosting and winning football tournaments. Whether it be the Michel Platini led side for France ’84 or the Didier Deschamps inspired 1998 World Cup winning side, France just seem to love to win on home soil and their hopes for Euro 2016 are no different.
Widely regarded as favourites, France seem a team set up to score goals – something that might be crucial in their tournament outcome.
France’s back line has been somewhat decimated by injuries and in Mamadou Sakho’s case drug suspensions. In fact, Deschamps is entering the tournament without the likes of Raphael Varane, Aymeric Laporte, Kurt Zouma, Jeremy Mathieu and the aforementioned Sakho. Quite some list with the now likely central defensive pairing being Laurent Koscielny with either Eliaquim Mangala or Adil Rami.
Through into the mix aging but competent full backs in the form of Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra, Deschamps will be happy to have a Hugo Lloris in the sticks, a natural shot stopper who has really developed into a leader at club and country level in recent seasons.
It is a testament to French football however to have such a vast array of talent at their disposal. Even considering just their defence, I immediately think of who England would be chucking out onto the field if they were missing 4 or 5 first choice centre backs. Surely, Ryan Shawcross would get a game then?
Defensive injuries aside, France have a wealth of attacking fruits at their disposal. You know you have a good team when Dimitri Payet isn’t an automatic starter.
Deschamps seems to favour a 4-3-3 with a strong central striker with bags of pace and technical ability either side. Oliver Giroud will probably get the nod over Andre-Pierre Gignac, but with the likes of Antoine Greizmann and Antony Martial more than comfortable playing as a central striker, France’s attacking options are flexible, impressive and extremely potent.
Romania on the other hand don’t have such attacking riches. Whilst this is hardly a surprise, Romania aren’t really a team who goes out looking to score goals. Once Greece decided to create their own kind of footballing world where losing to the Faroe Islands TWICE is a cool kind of thing to do, Romania’s qualifying group really lacked class when you consider some of the teams who won’t be in France this summer.
Coming second in their respective qualifying group to Northern Ireland, Romania qualified on the back of their defence to tune of 2 goals conceded in 10 games. That is quite some defensive record admittedly but you have to expect France to have too much quality in this game.
As a tournament opener, this game at the Stade de France is hardly the barn-stormer who want to kick off a month of footballing magic, as Romania sit deep, absorbing the French pressure and look for the occasional break.
Let’s just all hope for an early goal and we can really see what this French time might be capable of this summer.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog