The hosts France kicked-off Euro 2016 last Friday against Romania with the tournament favourites getting off to a winning, if not spectacular start. It was also a quiet introduction to the competition for two of their biggest stars.
POGBA EASES INTO THE BIGGEST MONTH OF HIS CAREER
He is the subject of huge transfer speculation but right now, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba only has one thing on his mind; helping his country win Euro 2016. On opening night in the Stade de France, the 23-year-old was steady without being spectacular; such is the progress he has made at both club and international level in such a short space of time, that many of his fellow countryman see him as the face of this tournament. A blistering effort in the second-half whilst the score was still 0-0 was his outstanding moment of the match as his teammate Dimitri Payet, grabbed all the headlines with a superb display capped off by a wonderful winning goal in the dying minutes of the game. Pogba exited the field 13 minutes from time to be replaced by Manchester United striker Anthony Martial who offered more of an attacking threat. French fans shouldn’t be too concerned by Pogba’s underwhelming introduction to tournament football however, there are still potentially six matches to go if France are to justify their tag as favourites on the best online sports betting sites and lift the their first silverware since for 16 years. The former Manchester United man has plenty of time to stamp his influence all over the competition.
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) June 10, 2016
GRIEZMANN HITS THE POST THEN DISAPPEARS OFF THE RADAR
Strikers need goals early on in tournament football to ease their nerves and give them a platform to build upon. Antoine Griezmann almost did just that during the first-half of Friday’s opener but the woodwork denied him the opening goal of Euro 2016. After the chance disappeared, so did the 25-year-old to some extent; a combination of physical Romanian defending and unlucky breaks resulted in the Atletico Madrid frontman (just like Pogba) being substituted on 66 minutes as coach Didier Deschamps threw on young Bayern Munich striker Kingsley Coman. Since missing a penalty in normal time of last month’s Champions League Final, Griezmann (highly fancied on the betting exchanges to be top goalscorer in France) seems to have lost a little of the edge that has forced his club to fend off the advances of numerous European giants as they look to strengthen their squads for next season. It will now be interesting to see what Deschamps does in the second group fixture against Albania on Wednesday; will he give Griezmann the opportunity to bag some goals against the weakest side in the group or will he opt for Coman to spearhead the attack. History tells us that some of the former winners of the Golden Shoe have started slowly in tournaments; the French will hope that Griezmann is just the latest to start the competition by easing through the gears.
Steve Mitchell @barafundler