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France and Romania will kick off UEFA Euro 2016 on Friday and the best way to approach the tournament’s opening game is to dutch a couple of scores favouring the host nation.
Home teams have won only one of the last seven UEFA European Championship curtain raisers – take a bow, Belgium – so some punters will refrain from backing France at very short odds to beat Romania and that is fair enough. After all, punters do not have to bet on every one of the 51 UEFA Euro 2016 matches and that is a huge advantage that they have over bookmakers. But if one weighs up the relative strengths and weaknesses of France and Romania and does not pay too much attention to the aforementioned statistics regarding home sides in tournament openers then a value play does exist.
Romania scored a pitiful 11 goals in qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016 having played 10 games against Northern Ireland, Hungary, Finland, the Faroe Islands and Greece in what was easily the weakest of the nine groups. Romania went more than 400 minutes without a goal during its UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, recording back-to-back-to-back 0-0 draws versus Northern Ireland, Hungary and Greece. There is a school of thought that Romania is defensively strong but most half-decent teams would have shut out the sides that competed against it for a place at UEFA Euro 2016 so one is not reading much into its low number of goals conceded in those 10 matches. Also, Romania’s three pre-UEFA Euro 2016 friendlies have resulted in a 1-1 draw with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a 3-4 loss to Ukraine and a 5-1 win over Georgia – clean sheets conspicuous by their absence.
France deserves to be the hot favourite for the UEFA Euro 2016 curtain raiser. France has won nine of its last 10 games and the Blues were not in the right head space for their 0-2 loss to England in a match that took place not long after November’s terrorist attack in Paris. France is superior to Romania, with the World Football Elo Ratings ranking the Blues seventh and the Tricolours 31st.
But France has not played a competitive game for almost two years so Blues players are likely to be nervous and there is the new format that will make its debut in UEFA Euro 2016, a configuration that may result in several low-scoring games. Four of the UEFA Euro 2016 group third-placed teams will go through to the last 16 and the odds are that goal difference will order those sides after 36 matches. Consequently, one cannot see Romania – third favourite for UEFA Euro 2016 Group A – throwing caution to the wind against France even if the Tricolours fall behind in the early stages. Damage limitation is highly likely to be the name of the game.
A France win to nil over Romania is trading at odds on but a smarter way to play is dutching France 1-0 (odds of 9/2 5.50 +450 4.50 4.50 -0.22 with Bet365, Betfair and William Hill) and France 2-0 (odds of 49/10 5.90 +490 4.90 4.90 -0.20 with Marathonbet) to produce a wager that equates to odds of around the 37/20 2.85 +185 1.85 1.85 -0.54 mark. The most recent match between France and Romania in Blues territory took place in 2010 and it resulted in a 2-0 home triumph.
Dutch France to win 1-0 and 2-0
Friday 10th June, 20:00 GMT
Odds: 37/20 2.85 +185 1.85 1.85 -0.54