Group A is not exactly the strongest at the European Championship finals, but the presence of hosts France, who are also one of the main candidates for the trophy, should make it interesting for football fans everywhere. Star-studded Switzerland and revived Romania also have ambitions of qualifying for the knockout stages, while it remains to be seen how minnows Albania will fare on their first ever appearance at a major competition. Read on to learn more about each Group A team and check out our predictions where the four sides will end up in the overall standings.
The fact they didn’t take part in the Euro 2016 qualifiers gave head coach Didier Deschamps plenty of time to test a number of high-quality players and find the strongest possible squad, and it appears he did a great job. Even without the suspended Karim Benzema, France have got plenty of quality up front, with Griezmann, Giroud and Payet expected to form the front three, while they are also very strong in other areas. With the likes of Pogba, Diarra and Matuidi in the middle of the park, Les Bleus should be able to dominate most games and judging by their performances in March friendlies, the team seem ready to mount a serious title challenge. With that in mind, we cannot see them experiencing too many problems in the group stage, and we fully expect France to breeze into the knockout stages.
Prediction: France to finish in 1st place
Betting Odds: 1.36 (4/11) @Ladbrokes
Many believe that this is a Golden Generation of Swiss football and team’s recent results are enough to suggest that is indeed the case. The Rossocrociati largely impressed at the 2014 World Cup, narrowly missing out on a place in the quarter-finals, and they have big ambitions ahead of the Euro 2016. Vladimir Petkovic’s side appear to be a perfect blend of youth and experience, and their attack-minded style of play makes them a joy to watch. Switzerland have some problems at the moment as captain Gokhan Inler has been left out due to lack of first team football, while top scorer Josip Drmic is out injured, but they have too much quality for both Romania and Albania, and look a good bet to finish just behind France in the Group A standings.
Prediction: Switzerland to finish in 2nd place
Betting Odds: 2.30 (13/10) @Betfair
Romania qualified for the tournament finals in style, conceding mere two goals in ten fixtures, but it has to be noted that they had been placed in by far the weakest group. The Tricolorii have struggled up front despite facing average European sides, mostly due to coach Anghel Iordanescu not prepared to take any risks and many believe they will enjoy a disappointing tournament in France. The attacking problems continue as neither Claudiu Keseru nor Florin Andone are scoring goals on the international stage, so there is no way they will be able to match either France or Switzerland. But, having shown plenty of promise in the March friendly against Spain, with Steaua starlet Nicolae Stanciu impressive throughout, chances are Romania will pip Albania to the third place and maybe even squeeze into the last 16 stage.
Prediction: Romania to finish in 3rd place
Betting Odds: 2.50 (3/2) @Betfair
Together with Northern Ireland, Albania are probably the weakest side at the Euro 2016 finals, and it is fair to say they were quite fortunate to qualify for their first ever major competition. The Black Eagles were awarded a win in Serbia, while defeating Portugal when they were at the lowest point, and we just don’t see how they are going to avoid finishing bottom of Group A. Albania have some high-profile players in Etrit Berisha, Lorik Cana and Elseid Hysaj, but they lack quality in most important areas and have major issues up front, with head coach Gianni De Biasi overlooking domestic league top scorer Hamdi Salihi. The Black Eagles will attempt to frustrate their more illustrious opponents with a defence-minded style and hard-working approach, but the reality is that the Romania game is the only one where they can realistically hope to avoid defeat.
Prediction: Albania to finish in 4th place
Betting Odds: 1.91 (10/11) @Coral
Group A Fixtures
10th June @21:00 – France vs Romania
11th June @15:00 – Albania vs Switzerland
15th June @18:00 – Romania vs Switzerland
15th June @21:00 – France vs Albania
19th June @21:00 – Switzerland vs France
19th June @21:00 – Romania vs Albania