The opening fixture of the European Championship surely lived up to its billing in terms of immense intrigue and all round entertainment which was expected from it. France managed a 2-1 victory over Romania with a pure stroke of genius from the maestro himself – Dimitri Payet.
It would have been utterly disastrous if France had failed to secure the much-anticipated win against Romania, but Les Bleus managed to get the victory in the bag.
France had somewhat of a sloppy start to the game as Romania looked like they would get the early goal due to a clear-cut chance which fell to Dejan Stancu in the opening stages, but an immaculate point-blank save from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris kept the scores level.
From then on, Didier Deschamps’s men controlled the pace of the game with Paul Pogba dominating the middle of the pitch for France. Despite the fact that Pogba didn’t seem to be in his top form, he was still able to put in a decent performance for his national team.
Romania’s sturdy defence was able to keep the scores level in the first half, but a superb through pass from Payet gave Olivier Giroud the chance he needed to break the deadlock in the second half.
Payet was arguably the best player on the pitch as he deftly undid Romania’s defensive setup with his quick feet, fast movements, and accurate crosses. Even when both sides were still level, Payet looked the most likely player to come up with something special, and just as he did many times with West Ham, he put in a real ‘Man of the Match’ performance.
Romania’s equaliser came via a penalty kick from Stancu, which he earned himself following a tussle with left-back Patrice Evra inside the 18-yard box. The game looked like it was going to end 1-1 before Payet scored a stunning late goal to secure the victory for France.
Key Observation from France’s Performance
Les Bleus didn’t seem to be a cohesive unit on a couple of occasions, and their lack of unity granted Romania a few half-chances, which could have easily given the game a different outcome.
Stand-in defender Adel Rami put in a weak performance, which could have easily jeopardised France’s chance of claiming victory on home soil, as he exhibited a couple of lapses in concentration in potentially key moments of the game.
It’s quite clear that Deschamps needs to re-orientate Rami or better yet bring somebody else into the fray to avoid conceding easy goals.
By the looks of things, Rami was overwhelmed by the spectacle of the Euros, which made him lose focus, and that affected his overall confidence.
It’s fair to say that Antoine Griezmann didn’t live up to expectation, as he failed to make any significant impact. Giroud also had a relatively shaky game, but his performance was overshadowed by the goal he scored on Payet’s assist.