EURO 2016 Group A will have the hosts France, newcomer Albania, Romania (qualified from the same group as Finland) and Switzerland who qualified just behind England.
Group A will open the games on 10 June when France and Romania will meet at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
Euro 2016 Group A: Schedule
France to win the group
Just the support from the home crowd should take France through by winning all their games but if you look at their team, it is difficult to find any weaknesses in this strong team. Tottenham goalkeeper Hug Lloris is one of the best keepers in the world and a clear number 1 for the Les Bleus. They have a solid defense even though they had to make slight changes to the squad after Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane got injured. Also Mathieu from Barcelona and Sakho from Liverpool are not with the team so Adil Rami from sevilla was called up quickly and he might even be a starter next to Arsenal’s Koscielny.
Goalkeepers: Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Samuel Umtiti (Lyon).
The midfield must be the strongest part of this team. It is led by excellent Paul Pogba from Juventus who will be one of the hottest commodities during the transfer market this summer (yet again). When you add the successful Premier League duo N’Golo Kanté (Leicester) and Ryad Mahrez (West Ham), you will have a midfield that is the envy of most of the teams in this Euro2016 competition. Lassana Diarra was left out in the last minute and his spot will go to Manchester United ‘s Morgan Schneiderlin. Not that much weaker, would you say?
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Leicester), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle).
France has a strong forward line but it has a hole wide enough to fit.. lets say Karim Benzema. The French football federation decided not to include Benzema in the team after he was involved in a case where another french player was being blackmailed. Therefore Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) will be the main attacking threat together with Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) and they will want to show that Benzema is no longer needed. Tricky winger Kingsley Coman might make all the difference if France will lift up the trophy in July. The Bayern Munchen player has the confidence and skill to match anyone.
Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham).
Football-Finland Betting picks:
France will beat Romania and Albania with at least 2 goal margin but Switzerland will be closer and they will beat them only with a single goal.
Romania to get the 2nd spot
Romania is a bit of a surprise pick for number 2. Our view is that Romania will beat Albania and will draw with Switzerland. Because Switzerland wont beat Albania, Romania will go through with 4 points. .
We feel that Romania is a quite solid team. They did not lose a single game in their qualifying group (5W 5D) which was enough to finish 2nd behind Northern-Ireland. Even though the qualifying group was not very strong, they shouldn’t lose to Switzerland.
The biggest strength of the team is their unity. The players know each other well from their time in the Romania Liga I. They have two good goalkeepers in Ciprian Tătărușanu (Fiorentina) and Costel Pantilimon (Watford) who compare well to other teams. The leader of the team is Captain Vlad Chiricheș (Napoli) with Razvan Rat (Rayo Vallecano) adding more experience.
Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tatarusanu (Fiorentina), Costel Pantilimon (Watford), Silviu Lung (Astra)
Defenders: Cristian Sapunaru (Pandurii Targu-Jiu), Alexandru Matel (Dinamo Zagreb), Vlad Chiriches (Napoli), Valerica Gaman (Astra), Dragos Grigore (Al Sailiya), Cosmin Moti (Ludogorets), Razvan Rat (Rayo Vallecano), Steliano Filip (Dinamo Bucharest)
From midfield they have the goal hungry Gabriel Torje (Osmanlispor) who has scored already 9 goals in 47 international caps. Even the very experienced and crowd favorite Lucian Sanmartean was included but he wont be able to play the full 90 minutes in all games. The main attacking threat is Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi).
Midfielders: Mihai Pintilii (Steaua Bucharest), Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Andrei Prepelita (Ludogorets), Adrian Popa (Steaua Bucharest), Gabriel Torje (Osmanlispor), Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua Bucharest), Nicolae Stanciu (Steaua Bucharest), Lucian Sanmartean (Al Ittihad)
Forwards: Claudiu Keseru (Ludogorets), Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi), Florin Andone (Cordoba), Denis Alibec (Astra)
The team has a very defense minded approach. (Do not let the 3-4 loss to Ukraine in the friendlies fool you). They kept a clean sheet in 8 matches out of 10 in the qualifiers. If they can keep the same going, they should easily go through from this group.
Football-Finland Betting picks:
The team has a solid defense so under 2.5 goals to the Albania and Switzerland games.
Swiss the shock team not to progress?
Even though there are 4 best 3rd teams going trough to the knock out stages, we predict that Switzerland will not go through with only 2 points (draws with Romania and Albania). The group sounds fairly easy for Switzerland but it actually is not. France will be an obstacle that they cannot overcome and Romania is so solid defensively that they will be also difficult to beat by the weak offense of the Swiss. Albania sounds like the easiest opponent but it might be the toughest for the Swiss. The players from both countries know each other well not to mention that we will see another Brother vs Brother scenario as the Xhaka brothers play for opposite teams. The Switzerland match will be the game that Albania will try their hardest.
Switzerland showed already in the qualifying group that they are not the same team that beat Spain in the 2010 World Cup or the team that progressed to the last 16 in the last World Cup. They lost both of their games to England quite easily and they also lost to Slovenia. The 1-goal wins over Estonia and Lithuania did not do much to show confidence in them either.
The Swiss players are more known than the Romanians but they do not play together as well as them. They have a good solid goalkeeper in Yann Sommer (Borussia Mönchengladbach) so it will not be the goal tending that lets them down.
Goalkeepers : Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Marwin Hitz (Augsburg), Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach).
In defense they have Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Steve Von Bergen (Young Boys) and Johan Djourou (HSV) who represent the more experienced players but the remaining players are fairly young (Born in the 90`s).
Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg SV), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (FC Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (VfL Wolfsburg), Fabian Schaer (Hoffenheim), Steve Von Bergen (Young Boys)
Their midfield is the best part of this team as it has a lot of creativity and skill with Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) and Blerim Dzemaili (Genoa) pulling the strings. They might miss a quality defensive midfielder but he is not needed if the offense keeps scoring goals.
Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Watford), Blerim Dzemaili (Genoa), Gelson Fernandes (Rennes), Fabian Frei (Mainz 05), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Denis Zakaria (Young Boys)
Offense is their weakest part. Gone are the days when Alexander Frei, Kubilay Turkilmaz and Stephane Chapuisat were banging in the goals on a regular basis. Their best forward now is Eren Derdiyok who plays in Kasimpasa. He is the only one who has scored over 10 goals this season and that was in the Turkish Super league. The question is who will score the Swiss goals?
Forwards: Eren Derdiyok (Kasimpasa), Breel Embolo (FC Basel), Admir Mehmedi (Bayer Leverkusen), Haris Seferovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Shani Tarashaj (Grasshoppers)
Football-Finland Betting picks:
There should be plenty of goals in the France game but against Albania and Romania, they might not be able to score any.
Albania to be last with 1 point
Albania had an ok qualification to the EURO2016 but they did benefit on the fact that terrible Serbia was in their group and Denmark and Armenia were not at their best. Albania had their best game in the first game of the qualifiers when they beat Portugal away from home. After this they had an away draw with Denmark and they were given the 3 points from their abandoned match against Serbia. With those 7 points, they only had to beat Armenia and draw with Denmark and they were at the games. So 1 surprise win, free points from Serbia and the other results more or less normal. Not too convincing.
The team only has 1 quality player and he plays as a full back (Hysaj). You cannot really build a team around him. In goal they have the 2nd goalkeeper from Lazio and their 4-man defense is adequate. Loirik Cana (Nantes), Hysaj (Napoli), Mavraj (Köln) and Agolli (Qarabag). After them the level drops so they cannot afford any injuries. Their defense is their best part as the midfield is average and the forwards are below average for these games. With some good fighting spirit, they might get that draw against the Swiss.
Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha (Lazio), Alban Hoxha (Partizani), Orges Shehi (Skenderbeu).
Defenders: Elseid Hysaj (Napoli), Lorik Cana (Nantes), Arlind Ajeti (Frosinone), Mergim Mavraj (Koeln), Naser Aliji (Basel), Ansi Agolli (Karabag), Frederik Veseli (Lugano).
Midfielders: Ermir Lenjani (Nantes), Andi Lila (Giannina), Migjen Basha (Como), Ledian Memushaj (Pescara), Burim Kukeli (Zurich), Taulant Xhaka (Basel), Ergys Kace (Paok), Amir Abrashi (Freiburg), Odise Roshi (Rijeka).
Forwards: Bekim Balaj (Rijeka), Sokol Cikalleshi (Medipol Basaksehir), Armando Sadiku (Vaduz), Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids).
Football-Finland Betting picks:
They will be last. France will beat them by a couple of goals at least. Romania will beat them by 1 goal and they might get the draw vs Switzerland.