Euro 2016 to kick off, as France face Romania

The wait is almost over. The first-ever 24-team European football championships will get underway this evening as hosts France face Romania. Here's what to expect from this proverbial David v Goliath clash.

When France take to the pitch against Romania at 9PM local time in Paris' Stade de France, supporters hope it will be the start of title-winning campaign, Deutsche Welle reports.

Expectations haven't been this high since 2000, when the equipe tricolore last claimed the European Championship. Coach Didier Deschamps' men will have home crowds backing them, of course, and they won all of their tune-up friendlies this year.

Most observers - including the bookmakers - think that this iteration of the France national team has a good blend of youth and experience. Deschamps left potential troublemakers like Karim Benzema out of the squad in an effort to forge a team with chemistry.

"I picked these players," Deschamps told reporters ahead of the game. "I know their qualities. There are players with different characteristics. We've been able to score a lot of goals and create a lot of problems for the opponents."

Romania, who booked their spot in Euro 2016 by finishing second in a relatively easy qualifying group, are rank outsiders. Still, the team was unbeaten in qualifying and conceded only two goals in ten games.

Deschamps has warned his charges not to take the Romanians lightly.

"They have a solid technical base," Deschamps said. "They don't just whack the ball into touch - they know how to use the ball."

The tournament is taking place amidst strikes aimed at commuter trains to the stadium as well concerns about terrorism. The Stade de France was one of the targets of last year's terror attacks in Paris, as suicide bombers unsuccessfully tried to enter the arena.

90,000 police and private guards will be charged with maintaining security at the ten Euro 2016 stadiums.

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