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EURO CUP OPENER

FRANCE

vs ROMANIA
FIFA RANKING 17   FIFA RANKING 22
 
 
TEAM PROFILES
FRANCE
France have been ever present in the EURO finals since missing out in 1988, an early end to the defence of the trophy they had lifted on home turf four years earlier. Their second victory came at UEFA EURO 2000, Roger Lemerre's side becoming only the second team after West Germany (1972, 1974) to hold the world and European titles at the same time.

It was a close-run thing. Zidane's extra-time penalty settled a tense semi-final against Portugal before Sylvain Wiltord saved them from a showpiece loss to Italy with a last-gasp equaliser, setting the scene for David Trezeguet's golden-goal winner. Automatic qualifiers as hosts, France will attempt to join Spain on three EURO titles in 2016, having suffered a 2-0 defeat by La Roja in the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals.

ROMANIA
Having often encountered tough draws when they have reached the finals, Romania's EURO success has been limited although, having qualified unbeaten, Emeric Ienei guided his team through a group containing Germany, Portugal and England to reach the last eight of UEFA EURO 2000. It was a feat that Victor Piţurcă had a chance of matching eight years later after impressive draws against 2006 World Cup finalists France and Italy – Adrian Mutu scoring but later missing a penalty in the latter match – but beating the Netherlands in the final group game proved a step too far.

A slow start cost them the chance to make it to UEFA EURO 2012, draws against Albania and Belarus preceding a 2-0 loss in France. Răzvan Lucescu was succeeded six games in by Piţurcă, back for a third spell as national coach, and three draws and a victory in the last four matches both earned third spot and provided hope for the future.

 

BEST RESULT

FRANCE   ROMANIA
winners 1984, 2000
  quarter-finals 2000
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FRANCE
Europe’s most coveted midfielder Paul Pogba is still only 22 but has a claim to be considered in the same class as the best in the world. At his best on the left of a three in a 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2, he began the season in the No10 role for Juventus but has reverted to his old role where he excels, even more so given the departures of Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal.
For France he plays the classic box-to-box midfielder’s role and if you ignore the hairstyle and significantly shorter limbs you can easily see shades of Patrick Vieira in his pomp in Pogba’s contributions for the national side.
Kingsley Coman is a versatile attacking midfielder, best suited to playing on the right. Only 19, his move on loan from Juventus to Bayern Munich has baffled everyone who saw his rich promise in cameos for Juve last season but it would be impossible to deny that Bayern have been perfect for him. Their system has been built around the width provided by by Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben and its propensity to stretch defences to make space but with both now veterans and finding consistent fitness elusive, Coman has slotted in perfectly to open the attacking third up for Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller to flood into gaps. Since Ribéry retired from the France side in 2014, Antoine Griezmann has been used out wide at times but with Coman’s emergence the wonderfully gifted Atletico forward can be used in the No10 role, allowing Pogba to revert to his best position.

ROMANIA
Attacking midfielder and dead-ball specialist Alexandru Maxim plays for VFB Stuttgart who are having a dreadful first half of the Bundesliga season. Swansea had a £5m bid turned down for him last January. He plays in the No10 role (and shirt), using his dribbling prowess, passing off either foot and crossing to try to fire Romania’s rather rudimentary attack. Maxim is a throwback, running with head up, assessing his options and seems to have all the time he wants.
The 23-year-old Florin Andone is one of the most promising strikers to have emerged from Romania for years, having done enough at club level in Spain to earn a call-up for the Euros, despite his side - Cordoba - being in the Segunda Division. He is already off the mark at international level and Romania will need to him to hit the ground running if they are to progress far in France.
   

 

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