1440 days since Spain dismantled Italy in Kiev, the UEFA European championship is here again. 707 days since they last played a competitive match, France will kick off the Euro 2016 against Romania in Paris amid security, strike and weather fears.
It’s 210 days since the country was subjected to terrorist attacks in Paris and Les Bleus will be hoping to restore unity, calm and solidarity to a country who seems to have established a recent history of winning major football tournaments they host.
Captain Hugo Lloris said he hopes the public support will be an advantage for them and it is one they will be proud of.
Romania finished a point behind group leader Northern Ireland in the qualifying campaign. The team came through the qualifier unbeaten (five wins and five draws) and their defence shipped in only two goals.
The coach, Anghel Iordanescu said he is aware of the difference in class but his team will be doing everything possible to cause France problems. Iordanescu is no stranger to doing the unexpected having been involved in a shock European cup final win. That was in 1986 when Steaua Bucharest against Barcelona, a match he took part as an assistant coach and a player.
Several players are absent for France but they still boast of a very good 23-man squad. The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet will hope to prove their class. Kingsley Coman was their only injury worry but he seems to have shaken that off. He hopes to play some part in today’s game
Romania had some injury concerns but Florin Andon(hand) and Ovidiu(knock) seems to have shaking off their respective injuries, though Steliano Filip( ankle strain) is training under the the medical team’s watch and could be available. Watford goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon and former Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches are names that might interest EPL fans.
France are unbeaten in their last 10 games against Romania (W5 D5), though four of their last five encounters have ended in draws.
Romania’s last victory against France was in April 1972. It was in a friendly in Bucharest (2-0).
France and Romania have met twice before at the Euros, both games in the group stages. France winning the first in 1996 (1-0) before a goalless draw in 2008.
France have won six and drawn one of their seven tournament games at the Stade de France (World Cup, Confederations Cup).
Les Bleus are taking part in their ninth European Championship finals. They have won it twice: in 1984 as tournament hosts and in 2000. Only Germany and Spain have lifted the trophy on more occasions (3 each).
France have failed to score in five of their last eight games at Euro finals.
Romania have never won their opening game at the Euros (D3 L1).
Deschamps is leading France to their second major tournament as manager, after the 2014 World Cup (quarter finalists). He was captain the last time France won the EURO in 2000.
Iordanescu is taking charge of Romania at a major tournament for the fourth time after World Cup 1994, Euro 1996 and World Cup 1998. His previous best performance was reaching the quarter finals with Gheorghe Hagi & co at USA 1994.
MY PREDICTION: France 4 Romania 0