France should be hard to stop in Group A but the race for second spot looks an interesting one.
While Romania might have come through qualifying unbeaten they were in a very easy group, which saw Northern Ireland and Hungary also advance. Furthermore, they actually won only half their 10 matches while scoring just 11 times. However, Iordsnescu has made them hard to beat and they did pick up draws with Italy and Spain in friendlies in November and March. Their lack of goals though will make it tough for them to win matches and could also let them down if they are challenging for a knockout spot as a third-placed side. A third-place finish in Group A would surely be seen as a success but they’ll have to go some to beat either France or Switzerland into second.
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Albania shocked Portugal in their opening qualifying game and when they were then awarded a 3-0 win after their match in Serbia got abandoned a pair of wins over strugglers Armenia were enough to send them to the Finals. However, the win against Portugal was against the run of play and over a side that was significantly below full-strength. With only seven goals scored in their seven completed qualifiers – five of which came against Armenia – they are arguably the weakest team at the Finals. Albania’s skipper – Lorik Cana - is comfortably the most capped player in their squad. He had an excellent season with Lille, who finished 5th in Ligue 1 and conceded only 27 goals, with only PSG better defensively. Worryingly for the Group A outsiders no player in their squad has more than three international goals to his name.
The Swiss can certainly trouble France on a good day but even if they can hold the hosts to a draw they look like they’ll find it harder to break down the tough defences of Albania and Romania, potentially impacting on their goal difference. We certainly don’t see a total upset in the game between Switzerland and France, with the Swiss having won just one of their 10 games away against teams in the top 50 of our rankings since 2011 and with France having a higher ranking than any of those sides (which had an average rank of 34th). The gap in our gradings between the top two and the others in this group is larger than any other group and with that in mind an upset looks unlikely so we wouldn’t be laying the 1.3 for them to not get out of Group A.