By Tobi Nifesi
Last Wednesday, the summer of soccer kicked in with the USA’s 2-0 thrashing at the hands of the Los Cafeteros (Columbia) in the opening match of the 2016 Copa America. With good fortune, today, the season throttled on with the first game of the much-anticipated Euros 2016.
The Euros has always been a competition of close margins, given Europe’s good number of superb players. It is a tightly contested competition; so much so that it is always difficult to predict a winner. Nevertheless, the France-Romania match up, that began this year’s competition, was not supposed to be that way. With players like Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet, Antoine Griezmann, France were supposed to dominate a visibly weaker Romania side from the first whistle to the last.
The Les Blues started slowly, giving the Tricolorii enough space to make through passes and attempt shots. The Romanians had good but futile chances. As the match wore on, the French fought back with sheer resilience and broke through with a goal from Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud. The striker’s header was the result of a poor effort in the air by Romanian’s goalkeeper, Tatarusanu.
Couple minutes later, the French shot themselves in the foot with some poor defending that led to Patrice Evra bringing down Romanians’ number 10, Nicolae Stanciu. The midfielder dusted himself up and slotted in a nice penalty goal to even up the match. It stayed that way for a while until a brilliant curved ball from Payet found the back of the Romanians’ net.
In the end, as expected, France began the competition with a win but the performance heralds problems that Didier Deschamps will be hoping to resolve soon. The French team are a decent bunch with brilliant and stand out players, who can step up at any given discipline. Nevertheless, they need to be more disciplined against tougher opponents if they hope to make something of their home advantage during the competition.
The Euros continues tomorrow with Switzerland going against Albania, Gareth Bale’s Wales against Slovakia and a young English squad attempting to start as they mean to go against Russia.