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Euro2016 - Group A Preview

Euro2016 - Group A Preview
john2hughes
Saturday,June 4,2016
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France

10/06/2016 8pm Romania St-Denis

15/06/2016 8pm Albania Marseille

19/06/2016 8pm Switzerland Lille

 

 


France are the 7/2 favourites for Euro2016 and boast a huge array of Europe’s hottest young talent. Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann should all feature for Didier Deschamps side as they look to become the first hosts to win the tournament since themselves in 1984.

 


Whilst disgraced former UEFA chief executive Michel Platini was their talisman 32 years ago, the mantle now rests with Juventus’s Paul Pogba. Not good enough for a game under Fergie at United, Pogba has developed into Europe’s premier young midfielder. He will be the heartbeat of this France team that has had to cope with friendlies for the past two years since the World Cup.

 


Whilst you can’t read a lot into friendly results, France did lose four games in 2015. They were beaten twice in St-Denis by Brazil (1-3) and Belgium (3-4) and suffered a 2-0 defeat to England at Wembley. However, the worst result they had was against Albania in June 2015, going down 1-0 to their group counterparts in Elbasan. They have also beaten the world champions 2-0 at home and most recently put Russia to the sword 4-2.

 


France 5-a-side Fancies

In our 5-a-side games Pogba is likely to be a go to pick.  Atletico’s Griezmann will also feature quite prominently, but for a differentiating factor Andre-Pierre Gignac might be worth considering. The former Marseille man may have made one of the more peculiar transfers last summer to Liga MX, but his 24 goals in 29 games offer a better option than Olivier Giroud’s goal drought at Arsenal.

 

 

 

Romania

10/06/2016 8pm France St-Denis

15/06/2016 5pm Switzerland Paris

19/06/2016 8pm Albania Lyon

 

 


Romania finished second to Northern Ireland in qualifying, which should tell you all you need to know about their chances of doing well at Euro2016. However, given the lack of premier clubs amongst the Romanian CV’s they could be something of an unknown quantity, if such a thing exists in the global television drama of football.

 

They are a 250/1 outsiders to win the trophy, but could be a decent bet to be eliminated in the Round of 16. In their last nine games they’ve conceded just three goals and have drawn 0-0 with Spain and 2-2 with Italy.  Expecting them to pinch a point from France may be a bit too much, but nicking a point from Switzerland and then beating Albania should be enough for a third place qualification.

 

 

Central to such solidity are goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu and centre-back Vlad Chiriches, who both ply their trade in Italy at Fiorentina and Napoli respectively. If you’re looking for anybody to pick in a 5-a-side then these two should be guaranteed starters likely to nick some clean sheet points. For a more wildcard pick, Andrei Ivan could be your man.  At 19 he’s certainly the baby of the Romanian squad and supposedly the next great thing of Romanian football. Ivan has even had the temerity to turn down a €2m move to Steaua Bucharest in January.

 

 

 

Albania

11/06/2016 2pm Switzerland Lens

15/06/2016 8pm France Marseille

19/06/2016 8pm Romania Lyon

 

 

The rank outsiders of the tournament, but at 500/1 adjudged to be ten times more likely than Leicester were to win the Premier League. I can’t profess to being a connoisseur of Albanian football, but I could argue that their players are better known than their Romanian counterparts, and that given they beat Denmark to qualifying they’re unlikely to be the whipping boys their outsider status may suggest. They’ve even beaten France in the last year, though we suspect that the French players may have been playing in flip-flops last June.

 


Elseid Hysaj is probably their most coveted player and currently plies his trade at Napoli in Serie A. The fact that many of the squad are scattered around clubs in Ligue 1, Eredivisie and the Bundesliga suggests that the Albanians may not be as unknown a quantity as would render an advantage. The most interesting selection from the squad is that of Taulant Xhaka, elder brother of Switzerland’s talisman Granit.  As luck would have it, the two brothers will face off in much the same way that Boateng’s did at Brazil 2014.

 


Picking players for the 5-a-side will be pretty difficult when Albania are playing. Their games are likely to be those that you sink five pints in whilst waiting for England to come on (they play Switzerland on the day England play Russia).  Under the assumption that the Albanians are hard to break down, then Mergim Mavraj of FC Koln might be an astute pick. As a centre half he scored the winner against France last year, and has two other international goals to his name from just 24 caps.

 

 

 

Switzerland

11/06/2016 2pm Albania Lens

15/06/2016 5pm Romania Marseille

19/06/2016 8pm France Lyon

 

 

The Swiss qualified second in England’s group so may be familiar to a few of you. They reached the last-16 of the 2014 World Cup before narrowly being ousted by eventual runners-up Argentina. In short, the Swiss have pedigree and should be clear favourites to qualify alongside France.

 


Having pedigree and knocking over two relative European minnows are two entirely different things, and since qualification Switzerland have lost three of four friendlies against Slovakia, Ireland and Bosnia with their only win coming in a 2-1 win away to Austria.

 


Switzerland need to start quickly, as they close their campaign against France.  Any mishap in the first two games could prove crucial, though with four third place teams qualifying for the Last 16, there is an element of insurance against a terrible result.

 


In Breel Embolo Switzerland boast one of the hottest striking talents in Europe.  The powerful Embolo is still only 19, but saw his club side FC Basel turn down a €26m offer for Embolo in January of this year from mega-rich Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

 


When picking your 5-a-side fancies Embolo should obviously be quite high up the list, but Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri is always likely to create some havoc amongst opposition defences.  The only downside I can see to picking Shaqiri is his familiarity. He’s likely to be picked by quite a few, as he’s a player that they know. Haris Seferovic scored twice against Austria recently and is more likely to start than Embolo. Whilst his record at international level is around 1 in 4, I can’t bring myself to tip Josip Drmic after the last World Cup. One name that as yet will be unfamiliar to you is Shani Tarashaj, who like Taulant Xhaka could have played for Switzerland or Albania.  In January, Tarashaj signed for Everton but was immediately loaned back to former club Grasshoppers.

 

 


Prediction:

France to win the group, but realise that despite the talent, they’re nowhere near as good as people might think. It’s a mystery to me why they are favourites. That said, they have perhaps, the most talented squad at the finals and if they don’t spectacularly implode under the pressure of being the home nation they could do some damage.

 


Switzerland should finish second, but they struggle for goals. If they make a sluggish start then Albania or Romania could pounce. I love Lorik Cana, so plumping for Albania in second spot.
 

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