EURO 2016: Group A Preview

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 14.51.50 by JAMES LING 

Here is a look at the teams competing in Group A at Euro 2016, with the hosts and one of the new debuting countries on show.

France

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps
Deschamps will be looking to win a major competition with France as both a player and manager in his home country. (Image credit: theguardian.com)

Deschamps, France’s World Cup winning captain in 1998, was appointed in the summer of 2012, succeeding Laurent Blanc who resigned after a two years in charge. Deschamps has been controversial in his past selections, leaving out renowned international players like Samir Nasri and emphasising team spirit is key. Deschamps will have his work cut out for him this summer with Karim Benzema being dropped due to his sextape scandal, but Deschamps faith in youth has been refreshing to see.

Road to Euro 2016

As hosts, France didn’t need to qualify. However due to the lack of competitive games the host nation would play during the qualifying campaign, Uefa came up with an innovative idea to include the French with the group with the five teams in qualifying Group I. They therefore played friendlies against the one side not playing in the qualifying campaign that evening.

Tournament History

France have won the tournament on two occasions. The first came in 1984 when Michel Platini spearheaded one of the greatest French squads. Then, off the back of World Cup success, their second European Championship was won in 2000, when David Trezeguet scored a golden goal winner against the Italians.

Key Players

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Juventus’ Paul Pogba and Atletico Madrid’s Antoinne Greizmann are stand out players for France this summer. (image credit: followyoursport.com)

The French boast a plethora of talent and it’s hard to highlight one specific player. With players like Anthony Martial, Antoinne Griezmann who has had a great season in front of season and Paul Pogba make the French early favourites.

Switzerland

Manager: Vladimir Petkovic

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Petkovic took over from experienced manager Ottmar Hitzfeld in 2014. (Image Credit: zimbio.com)

 

Petkovic took charge of the Swiss national side following the 2014 World Cup. The Bosnian Croat has won the Coppa Italia, while also managing six Swiss clubs during his career.

Road to Euro 2016

The Swiss finished comfortable runners up to Roy Hodgson’s England in qualifying Group E. Despite a shaky start to the group (losing their first two games), they quickly recovered by winning five on the bounce. Qualification was secured with a 7-0 thrashing of San Marino.

Tournament History

Made their finals debut in 96 when they spoilt England’s opening day drawing 1-1 at Wembley but following successive defeats finished bottom of their group. The same would follow in 2004 when they finished bottom, history would then repeat itself four years later as the co-hosts finished bottom for a third successive time. Something they will surely look to rectify this year.

Key Player

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Xherdan Shaqiri had a decent opening season in the Premier League with Stoke last season. (Image Credit: express.co.uk)

If Switzerland are to finally progress from the group stages they will need to look towards Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri. He’s not the quickest but what he lacks in pace he makes up for with his excellent control of the ball and ability to score from distance makes him a hard for any defender.

Romania

Manager: Anghel Iordanescu

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Iordanescu is popular among the Romanian population. (Image Credit: romaniatv.net)

Anghel Iordanescu is currently enjoying his third spell as head coach with the Romanians with his most successful time coming between 1993 and 1998 where he reached the quarter finals at USA 94 and the last 16 in France 98.

Road to Euro 2016

The Romanians notched up five wins and five draws en route finishing runners up to Northern Ireland by one point in qualifying Group F. An away draw to an abysmal Greek side cost them top spot, but they can boast an impressive defensive record conceding only two goals in the qualifying stages.

Tournament History

Romania are no strangers to the championships having made four appearances at the finals but on three occasions 1984, 1996 and 2008 were knocked out at the group stages and left each tournament without a win. Their best campaign came in 2000 were they managed to reach the quarter-finals before losing to Italy.

Key Player

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Stanciu made his international debut in March this year. (Image Credit: sports.yahoo.com)

Nicolae Stanciu stands out as the player to watch in the Romanian squad. The midfielder who plays for Steaua Bucharest has been in fine form for his club scoring 12 goals this season.

Albania

Manager: Giovanni De Biasi

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De Biasi is now an Albanian citizen. (Image Credit: uefa.com)

Giovanni De Biasi took charge back in 2011, and will be leading the Albanians to their first major tournament. De Biasi took Albanian citizenship in 2015 to symbolise his bond with his squad, of whom he largely recruited from the Kosovan/Albanian diaspora in Switzerland, Germany and former states of Yugoslavia.

Road to Euro 2016

The Eagles finished runners up in qualifying Group I to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Albania picked up some impressive results along the way, including a famous win in Lisbon to the eventual group winners, and remained undefeated against the Danes. Albania only conceded two goals away from home during the campaign.

Tournament History

Albania will be making their finals debut at Euro 2016.

Key Player

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Lorik Cana is a familiar name for Sunderland fans. (Image Credit: uefa.com)

Lorik Cana, the captain, who many will remember for his six month spell Wearside where he anchored Sunderland’s midfield now plays centre half for Nantes and Albania, following a spell at Lazio.

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