Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba give France an extra edge

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Football News

The opening game of the 2016 European Championships gave us a lot of insight into what is clearly a very talented French side that - barring shocking circumstances - should go deep into this tournament.

They are loaded with talent going forward and have a relatively stable defence that, combined with passionate home support, will make them very hard to beat.

The fact that talented youngsters Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman do not even command a starting gig highlights the depth and quality that runs throughout this squad and they certainly have one of the most potent benches of any team in the tournament.


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However, the game against Romania showed that despite all the high-class players in their team, they haven't quite clicked yet and the lack of a true world-class forward in the absence of Karim Benzema, might hold them back a little against better sides.

Olivier Giroud did get on the scoresheet but squandered a lot of opportunities before that and his link up play was far from stellar either. The saving grace on the night was their star midfield duo of Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet.

The pair were simply a cut above the rest, ran the show against the Romanians and it was a singular moment of brilliance from Payet that secured the win in the end. The West Ham man assisted Giroud's goal before firing in an unstoppable left-footed bullet from the edge of the box with just a few minutes remaining to give the hosts a deserved 2-1 win.

Pogba and Payet engaged in some irresistible exchanges over the 90 minutes with almost all of France's attacking play running through the two men. Each has an x-factor that gives the hosts a chance in any game - even when they aren't playing well as a team - as both have the ability to produce something from nothing as Payet did last week.

The way the 29-year-old dictated play and created openings for his teammates was a joy to watch and even without his startling goal, would have been the man of the match. Payet's ability to dribble past players with pace and strength coupled with his eye for a pass and dead ball skills make him as dangerous a player as any in the tournament and performances like Friday's will carry his side far.

Pogba compliments his teammate perfectly with a lethal right foot capable of scoring and setting up goals from all over the pitch. His powerful running style in possession and exceptional vision were plain to see against Romania and he is crucial in getting the wide men involved going forward.

Few teams boast two players of such attacking prowess and this gives France an edge in any game they play as even when playing a team that will dominate possession like Spain, their dangerous duo are lethal on the counter. They only need a small sniff to punish opponents as was evident with Payet's strike on Friday - the Romanians gave him an inch of space on his weaker foot and he lashed home without hesitation.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic can really rival the French pair in terms of providing an x-factor to their sides and with the added talent surrounding them, the hosts are going to have an excellent chance to win their third European Championship.

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Paul Pogba
Euro 2016
West Ham United
Dimitri Payet

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