After years of preparation and anticipation, Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday evening as France take on Romania in Paris.
In the same stadium where Les Bleus lifted the 1998 World Cup, Didier Deschamps’ side begin their European Championship campaign, hoping for a similarly successful summer this time around.
Deschamps was captain of the all-conquering side 18 years ago who then went on to win Euro 2000, and he’s built a side not too dissimilar from that legendary team.
Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann are worthy successors to Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry, and France go into the tournament as 3/1 favourites with Betway.
Les Bleus have won nine out of their last 10 – the only blemish coming in a 2-0 defeat to England in November.
Their first obstacle is Romania this evening.
Manager Anghel Iordanescu was in charge of Romania when they reached the 1998 knockout stages, and is back for his third spell in charge of the national team.
The 66-year-old has made his side tough to beat – they drew five times out of 10 during qualifying and conceded just twice.
However, they don’t score many either, netting just 11 times in a weak group that included the Faroe Islands and a hapless Greece.
Their only wins in the last year have been over Georgia, Lithuania and the Faroes, and I can’t see them getting anything against France.
Betway make the home win 30/100 which is obviously very short, but it could still be a nervy encounter.
Opening matches are usually cagey affairs – the curtain-raisers for the Euros in 2008 and 2012 produced just three goals in total.
Romania will be set up to frustrate the French, but I think they’ll find a breakthrough eventually.
The draw HT / France FT double result, at 3/1 with Betway, looks a decent bet.
I’m also going to be selling total goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index.
Draw HT/France FT 3/1 (Betway)
Sell total goals 2.4 (Sporting Index)