The wait is finally over. Euro 2016 gets underway on Friday with host nation France taking on against Romania (back France to win with a 2-0 margin at 9/2 with Ladbrokes) in the opening match at Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
For the first time, 24 nations will take part in the European competition, with teams like Spain, Germany, Italy, England and Belgium are all capable of winning this prestigious trophy.
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The expectation is high for the home side. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said in a recent interview that the French players should feel proud of the enormous support they are getting from the fans rather than consider it as a pressure and getting bogged down by it, citing how Brazil had failed to live up to the expectations in 2014 World Cup.
Can France reach the Euro 2016 final? History suggests that no home team have won this competition since 1984. Incidentally, the last home team to have won it was France when Les Blues defeated Spain 2-0 at Parc des Princes, some 32 years back.
Portugal, the host nation for Euro 2004, reached the finals of the tournament but lost 1-0 to underdogs Greece. Keeping history aside, France can win this competition (France 6/1 to reach final per Ladbrokes) purely on the merit of having a solid squad.
Despite missing both Benzema (due to sex-tape controversy) and Valbuena (poor form), France remain extremely strong on paper. While their defence is rather depleted, they boast a very strong attacking unit. The fact that Didier Deschamps was able to leave out players like Alexandre Lacazette, Hatem Ben Arfa, Adrien Rabiot and Kevin Gamiero on the reserve list illustrates France’s strength in depth.
Germany, likewise are bookies favourite to lift the trophy, as well. They have a strong squad that can go all the way to the finals. Boasting a solid defensive set up and an attacking unit that can destroy any opposition defence, there are high chances that Die Mannschaft may face France (back them to do so at 12/1 per Ladbrokes) in the Euro 2016 final.
It should be a fascinating contest, should these two great international sides make it to the final. Will Manchester United’s Anthony Martial lift the trophy? Will Mario Gotze (whose future still hangs in the air and has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool) score again in yet another final?