France (-350) vs Romania (+1200), Draw (+420)
The 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship will get underway this Friday when host France face Romania in Group A action at the Stade de France in Paris (3:00 PM Eastern).
The host nation are heavily favored to start the tournament with a win, and one of the two main favorites for the tournament as a whole (alongside Germany). Germany were the top dogs for most of the last couple months, but France edged past them in the odds in the last week. They’re now 3/1 to Germany’s 4/1.
France elected to leave Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema off the Euro roster, likely to avoid distractions. But manager Didier Deschamps will put Olivier Giroud alongside Antoine Griezmann in the French attack, and the pair should make France very hard to deal with.
France last won the Euro in 2000 when they beat Italy in extra time in the finale. Their results have trended down since then. Four years ago, they fell to eventual champion Spain in the quarterfinals. In 2008, they didn’t advance from the group stage.
Romania are in the Euro for the first time since 2008. (Coincidentally, they were in a group with France back then, as well, and played them to a 0-0 draw in the group stage.) They managed to reach this year’s tournament thanks to a runner-up finish in the qualifiers, but they had the benefit of playing in one of the weakest groups. (How weak was it? Northern Ireland finished on top.) That said, they were just one of four teams not to lose a game in qualification.
The last two matches between France and Romania were part of the Euro 2012 qualifiers. They played to a 0-0 draw in Romania while France won 2-0 at home. Expect something similar on Friday. France is the better team and will have the support of an entire nation. After an anxious first few minutes, I expect the team will settle down and dominate. Take France to win by two goals, which pays out at -105.
Pick: France -1 (-105).
(Photo Credit: Football.ua CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
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