France v Romania
Saturday 11 June, 5am
The Euro 2016 opener pits Romania against the hosts and Les Bleus should be starting with a win. However, Romania did go through qualifying unbeaten and managed draws against Spain and Italy since November so they are not without a chance of spoiling the party.
France are unbeaten against Romania for over 45 years but four of the last five meetings have finished all-square. However, there is a bigger disparity between the two teams in terms of our rankings here than in any of those other recent meetings.
Since 2012 they’ve won 15 of their 17 home games against teams ranked outside our top 20 with 12 victories by more than one goal and 10 wins to nil.
Romania’s unbeaten qualifying record was largely down to a group where the average ranking of their opponents was just 77th and they still won only half their matches while scoring just 11 times in 10 games but against this calibre of opposition that looks the best they can hope for.
They last beat a top-20 team back in 2007 and have since gone 15 games with nine draws and six defeats. That suggests the draw is some value but the last two competitive matches in that sample were 4-0 and 4-1 defeats while they’ve conceded at least twice in four of their last five such competitive games.
Furthermore, Romania look to be a team in decline while France are on the up with an attack featuring Anthony Martial and Antoine Griezmann.
Since 2002, the 14 opening matches at Euros, World Cups and Copa Americas have tended to see goals. The hosts have kept just two clean sheets in this time as both teams have scored in 10 and half have seen at least three goals.
This is even more the case when the host is the higher ranked side as both teams have scored in six of seven matches and four have had at least four goals.
The French defence can be vulnerable and while they should keep a clean sheet, at about 1.5, the price is a little short, particularly given what we’ve seen from recent tournament openers. However, with their attacking options we’d expect France to score at least twice, which can be backed at 1.67, and Over 2.5 Goals in the match goals market is a decent price at 2.25 given five of Les Bleus’ seven home games since 2015 have had at least three goals.
BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at 2.14