Euro 2016 Preview – Group A
France[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Les Bleus [/perfectpullquote]The hosts come into the tournament in very good form and are seen as one of the favourites to lift the trophy on July 10th. Les Bleus have twice won international tournaments when hosting the event (the European Championship in 1984 and the World Cup in 1998) and will be hoping to do so for a third time this year. Despite an off-the-field controversy involving striker Karim Benzema and midfielder Matthieu Valbuena which saw both players dropped from the final squad, the French have a powerful look to their side with Lloris, Griezmann, Payet, Pogba and Matuidi all likely to start. They should qualify from the group that is regarded as being the easiest in the competition and if the draw is kind to them in the knock-out stages they could go all the way.
Switzerland[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”The Swiss have never qualified for the knock-out stages” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″][/perfectpullquote]The Swiss side qualified fairly comfortably for this year’s tournament after finishing second behind England and though they are tipped by many to come out of this group the feeling is that they may not go much further in the tournament. Their main man is Stoke City forward Xherdan Shaqiri though many fans in England will be interested in Granit Xhaka now that he has made the move from German football to Arsenal. It will also be interesting to see how he reacts when he lines up against his brother Taulant who plays for group rivals Albania.
Romania[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Only one win in 12 previous attempts at European Championships [/perfectpullquote]Romania have not played in a European Championship since 2008 and have only won once in their 12 previous appearances in the finals – that was against England in 2000. The Tricolorii only scored 11 times in qualifying, including four against the Faroe Islands, so finding the net is clearly their weak spot though with a settled defence that includes former Spurs player Chiriches they will make it difficult for their opponents in France.
Albania[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”First time to qualify” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Debutantes[/perfectpullquote]Surprisingly qualified for their first ever major tournament by knocking out more fancied sides Serbia and Denmark. Albania only conceded five goals in their qualification campaign and the Eagles will need to maintain this strong defence if they are to have a chance. Their game against Switzerland will be interesting as many players from both sides share Albanian or Kosovan heritage and if the Albanians can get something from that opener then who knows?
France will clearly make it through this group without any difficulties at all but it will be a battle for second with the match between Albania and Switzerland in Lens on June 11th to be the decider. It should be the Swiss – but only just.
Les Bleus: The nickname of the French football team
to lift the trophy: To win the tournament
will be hoping to do so: Will be hoping to win again
dropped from the final squad: They have been withdrawn from the squad; they will not play in the tournament
they could go all the way: They could win the tournament (the whole thing)
they are tipped by many: It is felt they could do well by many ‘experts’
main man: key player
he lines up: To face; to play against
The Tricolorii: The nickname of the Romanian national football team
finding the net: Scoring goals
a settled defence: Their defence uses the same players; consistent
more fancied sides: Teams that should have beaten them; other teams were tipped to win
the Eagles: The nickname of the Albanian football side
can get something: In football this means a draw or a win