By Antony Jordan
The second round of group stage matches at Euro 2016 begin this Wednesday with all four sides from Group A in action alongside Russia and Slovakia from Group B. The first round of matches saw competitive and close matches for all of the six sides playing in Lille, Paris and Marseille today, but now that everyone has gotten their opening matches out of the way will we see more open matches with more goals?
We preview all of today’s trio of games with online sportsbook Sports Interaction and provide our best Euro 2016 picks.
The host nation may have won their opening match against Romania on the opening night with two goals from Olivier Giroud and a late, late stunner by Dmitri Payet but there were a number of questions raised about the team. The biggest was their defence which, to be honest, already had posed prior to the tournament and although the injuries for the squad have left them stretched at centre back the biggest problem on Friday night was at left back where Patrice Evra gave a penalty to let the Romanians level from the penalty spot when there was no danger for the French.
Payet’s quality strike saved all three points for the hosts and made up for their defensive problems, but as the match odds suggest for this clash they should have no problems in winning this match as Albania posed very little danger against the Swiss in their first match of the tournament. They will also be without their captain Lorik Cana for this match after he saw red after just 36 minutes against Switzerland and this leaves us to believe that the last kick off on Wednesday will see France secure their passage to the last 16 stage and see the Albanians rooted to the bottom of the group with a second successive defeat.
We feel that Albania will pose less of a challenge to the hosts than Romania did on the opening night and you can be sure that manager Didier Deschamps will have his defence better drilled so we are backing a comfortable win for France in this one.
Euro 2016 Picks Best Bet
The first matches of Euro 2016 saw a 2-1 defeat and a 1-0 win against France and Albania respectively for these two sides and the performances of both sides will leave them believing that they can get points in this match. The Romanians may have defended poorly for the first goal by France but for the rest of the match they were stout in defence and they could have done nothing to prevent the late French winner from hitting the back of the net. They will need to be much better going forwards if they are to take all three points in this match though, especially against a Swiss defence that was not tested in their opening match of the competition.
The Swiss did beat Albania 1-0 but despite scoring early on they could not add to their tally due to a combination of a fine performance by the Albanian goalkeeper, some solid defending by Albania due to Cana being sent off and some lacklustre forward play by the Swiss. The strengths of both these two sides does not come from going forwards and we do not see goals in this match, just like their 2012 friendly which is the only meeting between these sides since 1994.
Euro 2016 Picks Best Bet
The final match we’re looking at from day six of the 2016 European Championships also features a clash of two sides that did not perform well in their opening games as they were completely outplayed by England, although they did grab a late, late leveller, and were beaten by Wales respectively.
The Russians had their defence questioned coming into the tournament and England were rampant against them for much of the match and apart from some poor finishing and a good goalkeeping display England would have been out of site before Vassili Berezutski’s header in injury time to rescue a point. They will need to be much more threatening going forwards if they’re to win this match against the Slovakians, but with only three goals having been scored in the last four meetings of these teams since 2005 we feel that this will be another closely contested match – something that Euro 2016 has already become famous for.
Slovakia will be disappointed that they were defeated by Wales in their first game on their debut in the competition as they had brought an eight game unbeaten run into the tournament. They did compete with the Welsh in what they would have believed would have been their easiest game of the group, but just two shots on target in the 90 minutes leaves them facing elimination already. We are not confident of them getting anything from this game either, but with neither side looking good going forwards we can see this match being another one of the many low scoring clashes that have the majority in France so far this summer.