Paris (AFP) – West Ham’s mercurial playmaker Dimitri Payet edged out Manchester United’s Anthony Martial to start France’s Euro 2016 opener against Romania in Paris on Friday.
Payet crowned a series of impressive displays since earning a recall to the French team in March with a stunning last minute free-kick to beat Cameroon 3-2 in Les Bleus’ penultimate warm-up game in Nantes 10 days ago.
Olivier Giroud starts up front in the absence of Karim Benzema due to his implication in a sex-tape blackmail scandal targeting international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann completes the forward line after a brilliant 32-goal season.
Romania are massive underdogs to shock the hosts, but recorded the best defensive record in qualifying by conceding just twice in 10 games.
And veteran coach Anghel Iordanescu named a conservative line-up marshalled by captain and former Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Vlad Chiriches.
Hugo Lloris (captain); Bacary Sagna, Adil Rami, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra; N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba; Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet
Ciprian Tatarușanu; Cristian Sapunaru, Vlad Chiricheș (captain), Dragos Grigore, Razvan Raț; Mihai Pintilii, Ovidiu Hoban; Adrian Popa, Nicolae Stanciu, Bogdan Stancu; Florin Andone.
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN)
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