France will be expected to kick the tournament off with a win against Romania, but Anghel Iordanescu’s side were unbeaten in qualification and have managed draws against Spain and Italy since November. As a result, Deschamps will no doubt urging his side not to underestimate their opponents in this one.
France head into this tournament in good shape as they’ve won nine of their last 10 matches and have scored 23 goals in their last eight home games. Moreover, since 2012 they’ve won 16 of their 18 home matches against teams ranked outside our top-20 with 12 victories by more than one goal and 10 wins to nil. France are unbeaten against Romania for over 45 years but four of the last five meetings have finished all-square. However, there is a bigger disparity between the two teams in terms of our rankings here than in any of those other recent meetings.
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Romania’s unbeaten qualifying record was largely down to a group where the average ranking of their opponents was just 77th and they still won only half their matches while scoring just 11 times in 10 games. In fact, they’ve drawn seven of their last 11 matches and against this calibre of opposition that looks the best they can hope for. They last beat a top-20 team back in 2007 and have since gone 15 games with nine draws and six defeats. That suggests the draw is some value but the last two competitive matches in that sample were 4-0 and 4-1 defeats while they’ve conceded at least twice in four of their last five such competitive games.
Since 2002, the 14 opening matches at Euros, World Cups and Copa Americas have tended to see goals. The hosts have kept just two clean sheets in this spell as both teams have scored in 10 and half have seen at least three goals. This is even more the case when the host is the higher ranked side as both teams have scored in six of seven matches and four have had at least four goals. With that in mind, Over 2.5 Goals looks a decent price at 2.2, particularly given seven of Les Bleus’ nine home games since 2015 have had at least three goals. France will probably be in many people’s accas for the opening weekend and we wouldn’t argue with that. However, the best way to get the hosts on side looks to be the Win/Win Half-Time/Full-Time double at 2.05, since that’s been the case in each of France’s last eight wins.
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