Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group A

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean Championship0 Comments

With the first round of group matches at Euro 2016 finished; we examine just how the teams in Group A have matched expectations in France.

Courtesy: skysports.com

Payet unleashes a wonderstrike to seal victory for France. Courtesy: skysports.com

France 2-1 Romania

The opening game of Euro 2016 saw hosts France edge past the stout defensive unit of Romania. The spectre of the Paris attacks only seven months previous was clearly felt in the subdued atmosphere before kick-off. It appears that this tension translated to the France players who struggled to get going early on in the game, requiring a close-range save from Hugo Lloris to prevent an early Romanian lead.

Before long Les Bleus settled into a rhythm, with Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann looking the most dangerous. The stubborn Romanian defence held on until Olivier Giroud met the cross of Dimitri Payet to head into an open net on the 57th minute. The lead proved short-lived when Patrice Evra clumsily brought down Stanciu in the box only eight minutes later. A calm finish from teammate Stancu followed to level the game.

Despite the introduction of Kingsley Coman and Antony Martial, the Romanian defence looked as comfortable as would be expected from a team who conceded only two goals from qualifying. But Payet, delivering one of the tournament’s most memorable moments, curled a stunning strike into the top corner in the 89th minute to seal the victory for the host nation.

  Most Watched Sports in America and Why Popular Sports is Popular In USA (The United States of America ) | BASEBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, ICE HOCKEY

 

France Expectations: 9/10

As the hosts with an exciting array of stars from the top teams in Europe, expectations of Euro 2016 glory will weigh heavily on Les Bleus.

France Verdict: 8/10

Despite being shaky and underwhelming in places, France showed great character and ability to overcome a resilient Romanian defence as well as opening day nerves. They showed clear potential to be title challengers.

 

Romania Expectations: 6/10

After a sixteen year absence from major tournaments, little is expected from Romania. With 11 goals scored in qualifying and only 2 conceded, Romania will be relying on their solidity at the back.

Romania Verdict: 7.5/10

Romania will be disappointed with how the first goal was conceded and it took something special to break their resolve a second time. Overall, they can count themselves unlucky not to have come away from the Stade de France with a point. Romania showed themselves to be more dynamic than expected and it is certainly a performance they can build on.

 

Courtesy: theguardian.com

Fabian Schar heads beyond the flailing Erit Berisha. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Albania 0-1 Switzerland

The first match at the tournament delivered an electric atmosphere with an intriguing narrative featuring brothers, Taulant and Granit Xhaka, on opposite sides as well as five Swiss players with Albanian heritage. Albania’s inexperience at major tournaments became apparent early in the game as Fabian Schar benefited from goalkeeper Erit Berisha’s mistake in the 5th minute to give Switzerland the lead.

A second bookable offence from captain Lorik Cana in the 37th minute seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for Albania. The Swiss failed to press the advantage however, and a resilient Albanian side almost clinched a surprise equalizer but Shkelzen Gashi’s attempt was saved by Yann Sommer who ensured victory for the Swiss.

  Liga Adelante

 

Albania Expectations: 3/10

Albania were ‘exhibit A’ for those who criticized the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams. Little is expected from one of the tournament’s debutants.

Albania Verdict: 5/10

Whilst showing nothing special, the Albanians proved that the expansion of the tournament will not diminish its quality. Resilience and determination made up for a lack of quality and experience.

 

Switzerland Expectations: 7/10

Switzerland are often touted as a dark horse and, with players like Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, this is no surprise. Automatic qualification will be expected of the Swiss.

Switzerland Verdict: 6/10

After an explosive opening five minutes, the Swiss performance fell flat and they struggled to finish off Albania. Xhaka stood out but the other stars failed to impressive. An improvement will be necessary to overcome Romania and France.

Around The Web

Leave a Reply