Friday, 10 June 2016 00:00


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The principal interest in Group A for Euros 2016 would be the presence of hosts France. Clubbed with Albania, Romania and Switzerland, the French couldn’t have asked for an easier group. But, is that enough for the favorites?


Hosts always have the advantage of crowd support pulling as the 12th member. But, it can work to your downfall too, especially if the players fail to fend off pressure.

Realistically speaking, though, France should qualify easily from the group. Their only threat should be the Swiss but the quality in their ranks should help Les Bleus progress easily.

Bigger worry should be coming from within, with the Karim Benzema fiasco threatening to puncture their dreams. Benzema is suspended but his absence could be a big hole to fill for Didier Deschamps.

Qualification: Hosts

Key player: Paul Pogba

Prediction: Top of the group

Key match: vs Switzerland


The Swiss have reached the last 16 at the last World Cup without ever looking threatening. The presence of Xherdan Shakiri makes them a dangerous proposition. They were brushed off easily by England in the qualification group matches and don’t look a fearful opponent – on paper.

It would be a pleasant surprise if the Swiss manage to keep France at bay. Their main target would be to qualify behind the hosts – which puts more emphasis on their matches against Romania and Albania

Qualification: Finished 2nd in Group ‘E’ qualifiers behind England.

Key player: Xherdan Shakiri

Prediction: Second place

Key match: vs Albania


Don’t blame yourselves if you can’t place this tiny nation in your football mind. This is the first time that Albania has qualified for a major international competition. Having already extinguished the hopes of Denmark in qualifiers, the Black Eagles would look to spring a surprise or two.

Under Gianni de Biasi, Albania has taken giant steps of improvement but it would take a gigantic effort from them to qualify from the group here.

Qualification: Finished 2nd in Group ‘I’ qualifiers behind Portugal.

Key player: Erit Berisha

Prediction: Third place

Key match: vs Romania


For the romantics, Romania is best remembered for the exploits of 1994 World Cup, where they reached quarterfinals. The current team is coached by Anghel Iordanescu, the key architect of that success.

The Tricolorii have been sensational in the qualifiers, finishing unbeaten from Group F. They conceded just two goals over 10 matches – fewer than any of the qualified teams. But their shyness in front of goal could haunt them.

Qualification: Finished 2nd in Group ‘I’ qualifiers behind Portugal.

Key player: Vlad Chiriches

Prediction: Fight for third

Key match: vs Albania

Group ‘A’ doesn’t promise upsets or pre-calculations but is interesting nevertheless – on paper. But the magic of representing your nation could prove a catalyst for teams to upset the applecart of settled teams. Action is just round the corner!

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