KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS: Forget the World Cup and the Champions League. For France captain Hugo Lloris Euro 2016 is the most important stage in the careers of both himself and all of his team-mates.
Lloris was looking ahead to the Opening Match against Romania in the Stade de Paris which stages the kickoff to a precise month of football in a tournament whose general quality level has generally been above that of recent World Cups.
The point to which Lloris may have been alluding making is that France last hosted the European Championship in 1984 and their victory provided a career-fashioning achievement for the likes of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana.
Hence Euro 2016 can have that effect. Provided, of course, that France fulfil expectations by defeating Romania and everyone else who falls within their path all the way to the final back in the national stadium on July 10.
The excitement is making itself felt among the players.
Lloris said: “We felt something different because we came across some fans as we checked into the team hotel. There was a rise in our adrenalin levels. Now we can’t wait for the Opening Match.”
The Tottenham goalkeeper played down suggestions that France were favourites but he acknowledged that home advantage could be a “slight positive point of which we need to make the most to give us added strength.” More than slight. France have won nine of their last 10 home matches.
Lloris added: “We’ve drawn a lot of positives from our friendly matches but the reality starts here and now. We have a lot of desire to show all our potential. It’s the most important competition of all our careers.
“Psychologically and physically we are refreshed and the coaching and medical staffs have allowed us to be in the best possible conditions for the Opening Match and the tournament.
“It’s important to get started well, to breed confidence. The public expects a great show but, even more, they share our desire to see France winning matches.”
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