Group A Preview – EURO 2016

This summer’s European Championship is just 6 weeks away. For the next six weeks we will preview each group ahead of the competition giving you all the information you need to know before a ball is kicked.

The teams contesting Group A
The teams contesting Group A

FRANCE

French team

France have prepared for this championship without playing any competitive matches since 2014 (hosts qualify automatically for the finals) but coach Didier Dechamps has left the players in no doubt that they are competing for a place in his 23 man squad in June. For the most part Dechamps has used a 4-3-3 system but has experimented with different formations and has given different personnel a chance in friendlies against top sides such as Belgium,Spain,Portugal,England and Brazil. Hugo Lloris has been among the best goalkeepers in Europe for the past decade and looks certain to be the first choice keeper. In front of him Real Madrid center-back Raphael Varane has been a shining star for the Spanish club this season. Into the midfield France are spoiled for choice. Paul Pogba has been a crucial element of Juventus for the past few seasons while N’Golo Kante has been a rock in Leicester’s midfield in their Premier League title challenge. Dechamps no longer has the attacking threat of Franck Ribery but the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Oliver Giroud will provide him with plenty of firepower this summer. With such talent running through the team, France are one of the favourites to shine in the tournament.

Pogba

 

 

The Coach – Didier Dechamps

dechamps

Didier Dechamps has worked tirelessly since he succeeded Laurent Blanc after EURO 2012 to convert his success as a player into a national team manager. Dechamps was a hardworking midfielder in his day and led France to glory at the 1998 World Cup and at EURO 2000. After retiring as a player Dechamps managed Monaco,Juventus and Marseille before taking over as national team coach.

France at the EURO Finals:

  • 1960- Fourth Place
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980-Did not qualify
  • 1984- Winners
  • 1988-Did not qualify
  • 1992- Group Stage
  • 1996- Semi-finals
  • 2000- Winners
  • 2004- Quarter-finals
  • 2008- Group Stage
  • 2012 – Quarter-finals

 

ROMANIA

romania

Romania have won only once in their four previous appearances at the UEFA EURO Finals, but the robust security of a defence that conceded only two goals in their qualifying campaign indicated that this side is a team which will be hard to beat in France – and one that will be determined to prove that they have match- winning ambitions of their own. Romania have appeared at three of the last five EURO finals and veteran coach Anghel Iordanescu brings his players to France having finished as runners-up behind Northern Ireland in Group F of the qualifying competition.Defence holds the key for Romania with goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu solid behind a solid back line featuring captain Razvan Rat,Napoli’s Vlad Chirches, Paul Papp and Dragos Gigore. Moving forward Gabriel Torje provides versatility on the flanks while Alexandru Maxim has proven his ability in both creating and scoring goals. Bogdan Stancu is leading the line for Romania and his goals in thq qualifying campaign proved crucial. Romania have a tough task this summer but if their defence holds solid who knows what might happen.

Rat profile

The Coach- Anghel Iordanescu

Coach

Anghel Iordanescu’s remarkable career has seen him win top honours both as a player and a manger as well as becoming a member of Romania’s National Senate. He spent most of his senior career with Steaua Bucharest and was part of the team that became Romania’s only European Champions Cup winners. As a coach he lead Romania to the quarter-finals at the 1994 FIFA World Cup during the first of three stints as national team coach. In 2008 Iordanescu retired from coaching to focus on his political career but he returned to national team duty in autumn 2014 succeeding Victor Piturca.

Romania at the EURO Finals:

  • 1960- Did not qualify
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980- Did not qualify
  • 1984- Group Stage
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Group stage
  • 2000- Quarter-final
  • 2004- Did not qualify
  • 2008- Group stage
  • 2012- Did not qualify

 

ALBANIA

Albania

Albania have never appeared in the finals of an international football’s major tournaments. Their presence at EURO 2016 illustrates perfectly the progress that has been made to see the national team qualify.Their great step into the football unknown is being led by an Italian coach and players from clubs across Europe.Albania came runners up in their qualifying group behind Portugal. Manager Gianni De Biasi has had more restricted selection options than many other managers in Europe but the advantage of such limitations has seen the Italian field a settled team from goalkeeper Etrit Berisha to striker Sokol Cikalleshi. Lorik Cana, Anis Agolli and Andi Lila have been holding firm in defence with Ervin Bulku in charge of midfield. Finding goals is the main challenge with no Albanian scoring more than one goal in the qualifying campaign. However Hamdi Salihi is their leading international marksman with a dozen goals for his country.He and his attacking colleagues will need to be at their best if Albania are to score the goals required to spring another surprise in France this summer.

Cana

The Coach- Gianni De Biasi

epa04961247 Albania's soccer team head coach Giovanni De Biasi during a press conference in Tirana, Albania, 03 October 2015. De Biasi announced the squad for the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group I matches of Albania against Serbia on 08 October 2015 and Armenia on 11 October 2015. EPA/ARMANDO BABANI

Italian Giani De Biasi has made history by leading Albaina to their first major finals. De Biasi was a nomadic player in Italian football and winded his career down in the lower divisions before turning to coaching. His first success came when he brought Torino back into the Serie A. De Biasi’s first spell abroad was with Spanish side Levante before he was appointed by Albania succeeding Josip Kuze in December 2011. Taking Albania to France has earned De Biasi and his players Albania’s highest civilian award from President Bujar Nishani.

Albania at the EURO Finals:

  • 1960- Did not enter
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not enter
  • 1980- Did not enter
  • 1984- Did not qualify
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Did not qualify
  • 2000- Did not qualify
  • 2004- Did not qualify
  • 2008- Did not qualify
  • 2012- Did not qualify

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland-Euro-Cup-2016-Squad

Switzerland will have one of the most experienced squads at EURO 2016 as many of the squad made it to the last sixteen of the 2014 World Cup. Coach Vladimir Petkovic  has benefited from the foundations laid by predecessor Ottmar Hitzfeld. He hopes to be the first manager to take Switzerland to the knockout stages of the European Football Championship.Switzerland made it to the competition comfortably finishing runners up behind England. As at the World Cup the attacking onus fell on the shoulders of Xherdian Shaqiri. The 24-year-old was their leading scorer with four more goals than strikers Josip Drmic and Haris Seferovic. Solid experience in defence was provided by  Juventus’ Stephan Lichtsteiner and Hamburg’s Johan Djourou- with over 140 international caps between the two. Young center-back Fabian Schar has shown great potential for the Swiss. Goalkeepers Yann Sommer and Diego Benaglio are both skilled between the sticks and will provide a headache for Petkovic when selecting his starting eleven. Gokhan Inler,Valon Behrami and Gelson Fernandes along with Shaqiri have delivered solidity and consistency in midfield. In attack Drmic and Seferovic are skilled in front of goal. Switzerland’s experience can be seen when you consider that Djourou,Lichsteiner and Behrami,Inler and Fernandes were all members of the Swiss squad that co-hosted EURO 2008. Switzerland have a talented squad and have every chance of making it into the knockout stages.

Shaquiri

 

The Coach- Vladimir Petkovic

Switzerland-training-014

Vladimir Petkovic had a tough act to follow when he took over from Ottmar Hitzfeld after “Nati” had led the Swiss to the last sixteen of the World Cup before losing to Argentina. Petkovic’s inital task was completed when a 7-0 win over San Marino secured a slot at EURO 2016. Petkovic played for and coached more that a dozen clubs in the former Yugoslavia and Switzeland. He honed his coaching skills in Turkey and Italy latterly with Lazio before being asked to carry on where Hetzfeld had left off in 2014.

Switzerland at the EURO Finals:

  • 1960- Did not qualify
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not enter
  • 1980- Did not enter
  • 1984- Did not qualify
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Group stage
  • 2000- Did not qualify
  • 2004- Group Stage
  • 2008- Group Stage
  • 2012- Did not qualify

 

 

 

 

 

 

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