MUMBAI: France legend Zinedine Zidane on Friday (Saturday in Manila) tipped Belgium to impress at Euro 2016 but dismissed any suggestion that his countrymen were under added pressure as hosts.
Belgium, ranked second in the FIFA world rankings, open their Group E campaign on Monday against Italy in Lyon, before also facing Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.
Real Madrid manager Zidane, who won Euro 2000 as a player, told reporters in India he could not pick a winner but fancied Belgium’s chances of clinching their first major trophy.
“I’m not a magician. You never know who will win a competition like this,” he said on a visit to Mumbai, where he is a brand ambassador for a property development.
“You have to wait until the competition starts to see which team is strong and has everybody ready to play for them.
“Belgium for example are a brilliant team with lots of individuals. But on the day of the game we will see if they will deliver their best game,” the World Cup winner added.
The Belgians, whose best performance at the Euros came in 1980 when they were losing finalists, boast a number of top players from Chelsea duo Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
Zidane, who coached Real Madrid to their 11th European title last month, also said France, who kick the tournament off against Romania later Friday, would revel in their role as hosts.
“Les Bleus” won both the European Championships and World Cup on home soil, in 1984 and 1998 respectively.
“It’s a bonus to play in your own country. There’s no additional pressure playing at home. With all the fans it will be like having a 12th player in the team,” he said.
France also have Switzerland and Albania in Group A.