Euro 2016: Easy route for France in Group A, others not so much

Hosts primed to reach knockout stage; Romania, Albania, Switzerland locked in three-way battle for remaining spots

Euro 2016 starts in less than a week, featuring 24 teams rather than the traditional 16.

The month-long tournament will therefore feature a round-of-16 for the first time, with the top two teams from each of the six groups being joined by the four best third-placed teams from each group.

We take a look at Group A in order to see how the teams will fare when they begin their campaign on June 10, with hosts France taking on Romania in the tournament opener.

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Group A is considered as one of the least competitive groups, where the French side, who are hoping to repeat the 1998 history of winning a major international tounrmanet on home soil, will be starting as favourites to finish as a group leaders.

Switzerland and Romania, meanwhile, will battle it out for the second spot and Albania are starting as the dark horses in the group.



Albania are European football’s fairytale story, but it’s not a story many have heard of.

A country with a population of around 2.9 million people, located in Southern Europe, qualified for their first major tournament in October last year when they defeated Armenia by three goals in an away match.

Shqiponjat, Albania’s nickname which means The Eagles, opened their qualification campaign against Portugal in 2014, stunning the 2004 European championship runners-up by defeating them 1-0 in Aveiro.

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They ended up sealing their qualification with a win over Armenia in the final match at Denmark’s expense, who were defeated by Portugal.

Albania’s 45th rank is the lowest of the 24 teams who have qualified for the mega event and their tally of just seven goals in qualifying was also the worst of the lot.

However, having conceded just five goals in eight matches, Albania may not be the pushovers many expect them to be.

Qualifying for the next round, though, may be a step too far.


Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha (Lazio), Alban Hoxha (Partizani), Orges Shehi (Skenderbeu)

Defenders: Lorik Cana (Nantes), Arlind Ajeti (Frosinone), Mergim Mavraj (Koln), Amir Rrahmani (Split), Elseid Hysaj (Napoli), Ansi Agolli (Qarabag), Frederic Veseli (Lugano), Naser Aliji (Basel)

Midfielders: Ledjan Memushaj (Pescara), Ergys Kace (PAOK), Andi Lila (Giannina), Migjen Basha (Como), Odise Roshi (Rijeka), Burim Kukeli (Zurich), Taulant Xhaka (Basel), Armir Abrashi (Freiburg)

Forwards: Bekim Balaj (Rijeka), Sokol Cikalleshi (Medipol Baksasehir), Armando Sadiku (Vaduz), Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids)



With an abundance of talent at coach Didier Deschamps’ disposal, hosts France enter the tournament as one of the favourites to lift the coveted trophy.

Led by Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris, the French have been hit by a number of injuries and suspensions, but still have enough firepower to have genuine hopes of winning a first major trophy in 16 years.

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Les Blues will be looking towards Juventus star Paul Pogba and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann for inspiration but also have an abundance of talent in other areas of the pitch as they boast the likes of Blaise Matuidi and Dimitri Payet in midfield, Anthony Martial and Olivier Giroud in attack, and Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami in defense.


Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Benoit Costil (Rennes)

Defenders: Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Lucas Digne (Roma), Adil Rami (Sevilla)

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Juventus), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), N'Golo Kante (Leicester), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United)

Attackers: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayer Munich), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)



Romania were placed in a relatively easy Group F in the qualification round and an away win over group favourites Greece ensured their place in the continental event for the first time since 2008.

With potentially three teams eligible to qualify from the group for the first time, Romania will fancy their chances to book a spot in the knockout stage of the tournament.


Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tatarusanu (Fiorentina), Costel Pantilimon (Watford), Silviu Lung (Astra Giurgiu)

Defenders: Cristian Sapunaru (Pandurii Targu Jiu), Alexandru Matel (Dinamo Zagreb), Vlad Chiriches (Napoli), Valerica Gaman (Astra Giurgiu), Dragos Grigore (Al Sailiya), Cosmin Moti (Ludogorets Razgrad), Razvan Rat (Rayo Vallecano), Steliano Filip (Dinamo Bucharest)

Midfielders: Mihai Pintilii (Steaua Bucharest), Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Be'er Sheva), Andrei Prepelita (Ludogorets Razgrad), Adrian Popa (Steaua Bucharest), Gabriel Torje (Osmanlispor), Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua Bucharest), Nicolae Stanciu (Steaua Bucharest), Lucian Sanmartean (Al Ittihad)

Forwards: Claudiu Keseru (Ludogorets Razgrad), Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi), Florin Andone (Cordoba), Denis Alibec (Astra Giurgiu)



La Nati started their qualification campaign in Group E in disastrous fashion as they lost both of their opening matches against England and Slovenia. However, they managed to recover in spectacular fashion as they won five games in a row with the last, a 7-0 victory over San Mario, ensuring their qualification.

With players such as Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri, Arsenal’s new-boy Granit Xhaka and Hoffenheim defender Fabian Schar, Vladimir Petković will be quietly confident of his men making it into the next round.


Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund), Marwin Hitz (Augsburg)

Defenders: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Fabian Schaer (Hoffenheim), Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg)

Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Watford), Blerim Dzemaili (Genoa), Gelson Fernandes (Rennes), Fabian Frei (Mainz), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Denis Zakaria (Young Boys)

Forwards: Breel Embolo (Basel), Haris Seferovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Admir Mehmedi (Bayer Leverkusen), Eren Derdiyok (Kasimpasa), Shani Tarashaj (Everton)


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