Bilic - France are the favourites

Slaven Bilic believes France are the favourites to win the Euro Finals but also feels England could cause a major surprise
  • Bilic will be keeping a close eye on Payet, Collins, Ogbonna and Randolph
  • Bilic feels Deschamps has the perfect squad going into the tournament
  • England have players like Vardy who can cause a major surprise

?Slaven Bilic believes France are the strong favourites to win the European Championship Finals but also feels England could cause a major surprise.

The tournament gets underway on Friday night and West Ham fans will be keeping a close eye on the host nation as Dimitri Payet looks to become one of the star performers at the showpiece event.

Payet has already showed his quality in the build-up to the tournament with another impressive free-kick against Cameroon and will be keen to cement his position in the starting line-up.

Bilic will also be keeping a close eye on the progress of Darren Randolph, Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins who will be representing the Hammers in France.

After helping the Republic of Ireland qualify for the Finals this summer with a memorable display against Germany in the qualifying stage, Randolph will be hoping to secure the number one jersey as his team prepare for a tough group which involves Sweden, Belgium and Italy.

Collins is also relishing the chance to play at the Euro Finals and is proud to be part of the Wales squad that have qualified for their first major tournament since 1958, while his central defensive partner Ogbonna has been rewarded for an impressive season with a call-up to the Italy squad.

There is plenty for Bilic to be excited about and he will also be keen to see his native Croatia reach the latter stages.

But the Hammers manager feels France are the strong favourites to win the tournament and says Didier Deschamps has created an atmosphere in the squad that will see them become a major threat on home soil.

Bilic said: “France are the favourites, not just because they are playing at home, but because of their squad and the atmosphere that Deschamps has created.

“They have a good balance and have a young team that is hungry. They have had a few slops in the last few tournaments but they will want to repeat what they did back in 1998.

“They have options all throughout the team and have a good balance. They have young players who are already experienced like Pogba and Griezmann so in my opinion they are the favourites.

“Of course when you only have one game in the knockout stages you will still have teams like Germany, Spain, Italy and teams who can beat any on their day like Portugal and Croatia.”

Despite failing to make it out of the group stage in the World Cup in 2014, Bilic feels England could also be one of the surprise packages at the Euro Finals.

Roy Hodgson's side were the only team in Europe to have a 100 per cent unbeaten record through the qualifying campaign winning all ten games and scoring 31 goals in the process.

And with the likes of Jamie Vardy brimming with confidence following his title success at Leicester last season, Bilic feels they could be a match for any team on their day.

Bilic added: “I saw England in 2014 when they failed to make it past the group stages but I thought they were really good in two games.

“They were a bit in-experienced but I noticed the team spirit and energy in the team and I have seen it again when they played Germany recently in a friendly game.

“On top of that they are the only team in Europe that had ten wins in the qualification. For me they can be a big surprise.

“They have players who are high on confidence like Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane and I feel they can do something really great.”