Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group A

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean Championship0 Comments

Hosts France became the first time to officially qualify for the knockout stages after a tight game against Albania, whilst Romania and Switzerland battled it out for second spot.

Griezmann celebrates after his late goal sends France through. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Griezmann celebrates after his late goal sends France through. Courtesy: theguardian.com

France 2-0 Albania

Nerves dominated once more for the hosts in a game that looked sure to end in frustration. Didier Deschamps made his authority clear with the controversial decision to drop superstars Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba from the starting line-ups. Football can be cruel though; one wonders how much pressure the manager would be under had Griezmann’s late goal not saved his blushes.

Albania will be bitterly disappointed to have fallen at the final hurdle after a doggedly resilient performance. Despite looking fairly timid throughout, a moment of lapsed concentration from Albania was enough for the hosts to make their class apparent when Griezmann flicked the ball into the bottom corner from an Adil Rami cross on the 90th minute.

Dimitri Payet sealed Albania’s demise minutes later with a tidy curled finish, continuing one of the fairytale stories of this year’s Euros.

France Verdict: 7/10 (⇓1)

Deschamp received praise for his ‘iron fist’ approach yet, if anything, it made France’s play worsen only to be saved by the man he dropped. Albania were well organised but again, France struggled for ideas. Huge improvements need to be made if France wish to lift the trophy come July 10th.

  Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group F

Albania Verdict: 6/10 (⇑1)

Whilst never looking like threatening France for all three points, they demonstrated a clear improvement against a strong French side. To be sitting on zero points going into the final game is a slight injustice however, fans will be hoping for a more attacking approach in their last chance game against Romania.

Rodriquez and Torje battle for possession.

Rodriquez and Torje battle for possession. Courtesy: independent.co.uk

Romania 1-1 Switzerland

A more solid performance from Switzerland was marred by their clear lack of a goalscorer up front. It was more of the same from Romania, who frustrated their opponents at every turn. A point should be enough to guarantee Switzerland into the knockout face in some capacity whilst Romania will hold out some hope of overcoming Albania.

It was a second penalty in two games which gifted Romania the lead; the ever-furious, Lichtsteiner being the culprit. Their more conservative tactics beyond this point allowed Switzerland to recollect their dominance, going close a couple of times before the break.

Just like the opening fixture, Romania were undone by another wonder strike as Mehmedi tried his best to burst the back of the Romanian net with a thunderous volley in the box which made it through a crowd of players. Switzerland continued to press for the victory but their opponent’s notoriously stingy defence stood strong to keep things honours even.

Romania Verdict: 6.5/10 (⇓1)

Romania fought well and were as defensively solid as we have come to expect. However, on the offensive, a disappointing lack of initiative meant that an opportunity to secure three points passed them by. Hopefully Romania will throw a little more caution to the wind in their final game against Albania.

  Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group C

Switzerland Verdict: 7/10 (⇑1)

We witnessed glimpses of what Switzerland have to offer in France on an individual level, Xhaka particularly shined once more. Seferovic’s ineptitude in front of goal is a serious problem for the Swiss who will need to be firing much more effectively if they are to progress in the knockout phase.

How Things Stand

  Played Goal Difference Points
France 2 +3 6
Switzerland 2 +1 4
Romania 2 -1 1
Albania 2 -3

A point will seal top spot for France when they face second-placed Switzerland. Similarly, a point for Switzerland will secure second spot leaving Romania and Albania to battle it out for third. As four of the six third-placed teams advance, a win should be enough to see either progress.

 

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