The UEFA Euro 2016 kicked off in some style with Paris living up to its reputation as the style capital. There was lot on display from can-can girls, giant dancing lips, ballet and finally David Guetta who brought the crowd on its feet by his DJ skills. But it was a good match that the fans wanted and it was a good match which the fans got. The inaugural match saw hosts France take on Romania.
Didier Deschamps’ picked up a strong team with Giroud, Payet and Griezmann making the front three. Despite all the criticism by fans, he still chose Giroud over Martial.
As per our previous SWOT analysis the one thing that France lack in is the defense and Romania exposed it as early in the 4th minute of the match. The hosts were exposed playing against their home crowd, Nicolae Stanciu’s corner was flicked to the back post where Stancu was denied inside the six-yard box by a stunning save from Hugo Lloris. France continued to be brittle at the back and were shaky possibly due to immense pressure of expectations.
The first half of the match ended 0-0, but it had its moments for both sides each had plenty of opportunities to go ahead but were denied by some good keeping or by misfiring forwards.
France came so close when Griezmann connected a Bacary Sagna’s teasing delivery bouncing off Romania’s Vlad Chiriches only to be denied by the post. Going into the second half questions were raise on the ability of the French forwards for their wasteful chances but soon they made amends and it was Giroud of all who scored the first goal of the match. He headed a brilliant ball in by Payet to beat Tatarusanu 1-0 France minute 57.
However, France could only hold on to the lead for eight minutes as Left back Patrice Evra was clumsy inside the box for leaving a trailing leg to bring down Stanciu to give Romania a penalty. Stancu who was previously denied by Hugo Lloris made up for it for calmly converting from the spot beating France No 1 to bring back his team on level terms.
France went for the kill and subbed Griezmann to bring on Kingsley Coman, and Anthony Martial for the subdued Paul Pogba.
The Juve midfielder did not have best of the match and will look to up his game in the next fixtures. The teams seemed to be tiring and the deadlock remained. The match seemed all to be heading to a frustrating draw but only for the brilliance of one man which tilted the match in France’s favor and helped them avoid the embarrassment of drawing the first match. The man of the occasion was Dmitri Payet, the West Ham player who has had an exceptional club season for the hammers was at it again as he hammered home a winner from outside the box with one minute of normal time left.
The joy of scoring was so overwhelming for the French men that he was in tears, the occasion got to him. He wiped his tears of joy to collect the man of the match for his assist and goal and guide France to its first win and 3 points. The opening day of Euros had all the emotions all the football, the best of its kind, the worst of it kind one can only hope that it is just a curtain raiser and we will get to witness even better matches as the tournament progresses.