Payet prepped for Euro 2016 opener

  • Dimitri Payet and France kick-off Euro 2016 against Romania in Paris on Friday
  • West Ham United star has scored three goals in 18 caps for his country
  • The 29-year-old set to form part of star-studded forward line for Didier Deschamps' side
Dimitri Payet is hoping to be part of a feared France attack when Les Bleus kick-off UEFA Euro 2016 against Romania on Friday.

The French begin their home tournament as 3/1 favourites and Payet is expected to be an important figure for Didier Deschamps’ star-studded side.

Payet has carried his scintillating form for West Ham United into a France shirt in the run-up to Euro 2016, scoring sensational free-kicks in victories over Russia and Cameroon.

The Hammer of the Year is expected to start in Friday’s tournament opener at the Stade de France in a six-pronged attack alongside Juventus powerhouse Paul Pogba, Paris Saint-Germain star Blaise Matuidi, Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, outstanding Manchester United youngster Anthony Martial and Arsenal centre forward Olivier Giroud. However, the 29-year-old is taking nothing for granted.

“If you look at the forward line, everyone was efficient in our win over Scotland on Saturday, so it will be the coach to choose his team [to face Romania],” Payet began. “It is better to have these choices than to have no options.”
It is better to have these choices than to have no options
Payet continued his outstanding pre-Euro 2016 form by setting up two goals in a 3-0 win over the Scots in Metz last weekend.

When asked about his own form leading up to the finals, the Hammers star is enjoying playing alongside energetic central midfielders Pogba and Matuidi and being given the opportunity to dictate the play himself from a central trequartista position.

“I was involved in the play a lot against Scotland, and that allows me to be at the beginning of the attacks,” he continued.

“I can link-up with midfielders Paul and Blaise in particular, and we made ??good combinations.”
While his ability to pick holes in defences from open play will pose a threat to any defence, it is Payet’s skill from set plays that will have fans on the edge of their seats throughout Euro 2016.

The Reunion-born maestro scored SIX direct free-kicks for Club and country in 2015/16, including a wonderful last-minute effort to defeat Cameroon on 31 May.

“This is an important weapon, as there will be close games and set pieces can unlock situations,” the West Ham favourite confirmed.

Payet is rated as a 25/1 shot to be named Player of the Tournament, behind only teammates Pogba and Griezmann, Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany’s Thomas Muller, Belgium pair Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard and England’s Harry Kane. He is also a 50/1 chance to finish the competition as top scorer.

France face Romania in their Group A opener in Paris at 8pm BST tonight, live on ITV, before tackling Albania in Marseille on Thursday 15 June (ITV) and Switzerland in Lille on Monday 19 June (BBC 1), with both matches also kicking-off at 8pm.