France coach Didier Deschamps will want to get the ideal starting XI out onto the pitch against Romania, before hoping that XI does the trick for the hosts in the Euro 2016 opener at the State de France on Friday. France go into the first match of the European Championships with hope and pressure piled on in numbers, and how they cope with that expectation will decide how far they go in this tournament.
Much of the talk during the buildup to this Euro 2016 has been about Karim Benzema's exclusion from the final 23. Such has been the criticism levelled at Deschamps for overlooking the Real Madrid striker – even if the decision was somewhat taken off him after the France Football Association decided to suspend Benzema as investigations continue over an alleged blackmail scandal -- that France's current first choice striker Olivier Giroud was booed during an international friendly against Cameroon, as certain sections of fans made their feelings known.
However, that feeling has reduced a little, largely due to France's solid form in front of goal, with Giroud, in particular, going into Euro 2016 in good touch. At the end of the day, the France squad, the final 23 that has been picked by Deschamps, need to be encouraged by the supporters, otherwise the fact that this is a home tournament for the Les Blues will become pointless.
France, Giroud and Deschamps will certainly hope the fans will be behind them when they take the field for the Euro 2016 opening match against Romania. France are the overwhelming favourites for this match, and indeed one of the favourites for the tournament, and it would be seen as a disaster if Romania were to upset them at their national stadium.
To avoid that from happening, Deschamps needs to pick the right starting XI. Hugo Lloris is an obvious choice for goalkeeper, while the question is if Eliaquim Mangala or Adil Rami will partner Laurent Koscielny at centre-defence. Going by the last couple of friendlies, it looks like Rami will get the nod ahead of the Manchester City defender. Either way, there lies the slight problem for France, because Koscielny and Rami need to build a solid understanding if France are not to concede soft goals.
N'Golo Kante should start in the middle with Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi for company in midfield, while Giroud is likely to be supported by Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet, unless Deschamps decides he needs more pace and picks Anthony Martial or Kingsley Coman, who is nursing a slight calf problem.
Romania have a slight doubt over Steliano Filip, who has an ankle problem, but Vlad Chiriches, Florin Andone and Ovidiu Hoban have all recovered from knocks. Coach Anghel Iordanescu will hope whichever starting XI he puts out for this Euro 2016 matchup, does exactly what has been asked of them. The longer Romania keep things tight, the more nervous France are likely to get, which will then give them an opportunity to cause an upset.
Confirmed starting XI: France: Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Payet.
Romania: Tatarusanu; Sapunaru, Chiriches, Grigore, Rat; Hoban, Pintilii, Stanciu; Popa, Andone, Stancu.