The Euro 2016 hosts France kick off this summer’s tournament as they face Romania at the Stade de France on Friday night.
Les Bleus are the narrow favourites to win the competition outright, and will want to get off to a good start in front of their own supporters in Paris.
The preparations leading up to it haven’t been great for manager Didier Deschamps though – the national security threat, accusations of racism and key players like Karim Benzema being involved in scandal, as well as some injuries to key players, mean that France will want to do their talking on the pitch now.
However, they do come into their opening clash in great form, winning nine of their last 10 matches – with the only defeat coming against England at Wembley back in November shortly after the attacks in the French capital – as well as scoring three or more goals in their previous four friendly fixtures.
Deschamps also has great pedigree in the European Championships having captained his nation to glory at Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands, and players such as Dimitri Payet, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba in fine form.
While France are the favourites to progress from Group A, Romania will certainly fancy their chances of finishing second with Switzerland and Albania being their other opponents.
Anghel Iordanescu’s men certainly won’t be a pushover in Paris though – they went unbeaten through the qualifying campaign and had the tightest defence, conceding just two goals as they finished runners-up to Northern Ireland in Group F.
Those looking for an upset would be wise to predict a draw – Romania have drawn five of their last six matches, as well as four of their last five against France.
Having lost Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane to injury and Liverpool centre-back Mamadou Sakho after he failed a drugs test, Deschamps’ defensive options have certainly been weakened, with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny expected to partner Adil Rami at the heart of the French defence.
Forward Kingsley Coman has also been struggling with a calf problem, but is expected to be fit enough to start on the substitutes’ bench, while Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is expected to start up front.
For Romania, former Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches has declared himself fit after he sat out his nation’s warm-up win against Georgia, while Florin Andone and Ovidiu Hoban are also both fit following knocks.
FIFA World Ranking: France – 17th; Romania – 22nd
Best European Championship Finish: France – Winners (1984 & 2000); Romania – Quarter-Finals (2000)
Previous Meeting: Romania 0-0 France (September 6, 2011 – Euro 2012 qualifier)
Form: France – WLWWWW; Romania – DDDWDD
Key Men: France – Paul Pogba; Romania – Gabriel Torje
Shoot Says: France 2-0 Romania