SAINT DENIS — It took a great strike from Dimitri Payet in the 89th minute for France to defeat a feisty Romania team in the opening match of the Euro.
The three points are big but there are still thing to work on for the host if they want to conquer their third European Championship, these are the most important point of the game.
1) Center Back duo
Possibly the biggest position to keep an eye in this French team is the center back duo. Laurent Koscielny has been a central part of the defense but his usual accomplice Mamadou Sakho is out due to injury. Other options such as Raphael Varane, Jaeremy Mathieu and Kurt Zouma are also out with injury and with the omission of Aymeric Laporte, Sevilla’s defender Adil Rami is the next man up.
The lack of minutes playing together caused some issues defensively for the team and allowed Romania to create quite a few dangerous plays. The quality in the back has to improve if France want to go far in the tournament.
2) Dimitri Payet
He got involved in the match but didn’t stand out in the first half, in the second half Payet created havoc down the right flank and in the 61st minute delivered a great cross for Oliver Giroud to head into the net to give France the 1-0 lead.
After Romania had tied the game and though it was near getting a point out of France, Payet once again cut inside and took a powerful shot that snuck in the far top corner of the goal to seal the win for the hosts.
3) Tactical changes
Manager Didier Deschamps introduced Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman in the second half to help in the attack. By having Coman play in the right he freed up Payet to play underneath Giroud and find space to receive the ball in space which ultimately helped him get the game winner near the end of the game.
The question now for Deschamps is what to do for the next game, stick to the 4-3-3 that started against Romania or have Martial and Coman play form the beginning and if he does then who comes out? Giroud? Antoine Greizmann? We’ll have to wait.
My guess is that he’ll keep his team intact. Another possibility is to use Griezmann as a second striker allowing Payet to play behind them and have Pogba playing slightly to the right and Matuidi on the left and keep N’Golo Kante as the lone defensive midfielder.
4) What could have been
The game could have played out very differently if Bogdan Stancu would’ve been able to score in the 4th minute. After a corner delivery the ball fell to the second post where Stancu was all alone to tap in the ball but his touch was too soft and in the direction of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who was able make the save. The game would’ve been very different but as the wise men of the world of sports say, the would have doesn’t exist and almost does’t count.
Next France will face Albania in Marseille, while Romania will play Switzerland in Paris. Both games will be played on June 15.