By Antony Jordan
The group stages begin to come to a close this Sunday as there are just two matches being played today and it is Group A that concludes first. The French and the Swiss are the two teams that are in pole position to progress automatically as they have taken six and four points respectively, but with them clashing is there a chance for Romania to leapfrog the Swiss side if they are beaten by the host nation?
We preview both of the final Group A clashes with online sportsbook Bet365.com this Sunday evening and we provide our best Euro 2016 picks too.
With passage to the knockout stages already secured for the host nation and them having the knowledge that a draw in this final Group A clash will see them progress as group winners manager Didier Deschamps is likely to rest his star players for the last 16 stage push. This will give plenty of hope to the Swiss side that they can take something from this clash in Lille as they know that a point will secure second place in the group and an automatic place in the next phase of the European Championships this summer.
The French have huffed and puffed in this competition so far as three of their four goals in the 2-1 win over Romania and 2-0 victory against Albania have come no earlier than the 89th minute. This shows the level of determination within this French squad as they will not give up until the final whistle and even with a number of key players rested for this match the French squad is still full of quality and will worry the Swiss.
Another thing that will see Switzerland worried is the number of chances that they have spurned throughout this competition with them hitting the net on just two occasions from 34 shots in their two matches, and both of these goals have come from set pieces. France have conceded only a penalty so far in this competition and although they do not inspire the kind of confidence at the back that the Spanish and Italian sides do they should be able to keep a poor Swiss side out.
We would not be surprised to see this match end as a draw as this result would suit both sides perfectly, and we’re certainly expecting the pace of the match to reflect this, but if either side is going to triumph it’ll be the French. We can see them getting at least one goal without reply from the Swiss and, as such, we’re backing a home win in this one.
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These two sides meet for the first time since 2014 when Romania claimed a 1-0 triumph against Albania with left back Razvan Rat bagging the only goal of the game as the Romanian side extended their unbeaten run against the Albanians to 13 games. They have won ten of these matches and were last beaten by Albania in 1948, and they’ll need to win this clash in Lyon if they’re to stand any chances of progressing to the knockout stage of this tournament.
This match is a must win for Albania too as victory will see them on three points and stand an outside shot at being one of the four top third placed sides at the end of the group matches, but this game will not be easy for either team. They both have shown some excellent defensive abilities in France so far while neither have excelled in front of goal yet. Romania have outscored their opposition in this final match 2-0 in the number of goals netted, but both of these have come from the penalty spot, and both sides have defended equally as well as each other as they have conceded three.
Even with a potential place in the knockout stages available for the winner of this match we feel that these two sides are too close to each other in style of play and ability so we feel that the sides will cancel each other out in this final game and, unfortunately for both sides, we foresee this clash ending level which will most likely see both teams miss out on a place in the knockout stages.