Goals look the way to go when France meet Switzerland on Sunday night.
France are safely through after two wins but it’s taken a pair of late goals to get them there. The match against Albania was perhaps notable for Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann being dropped but as a team they seemed content to sit back and refused to press high up the pitch and apply any pressure. When they eventually did, in the second half, they took control of the game and the question is whether they’ll start this game as they did the last, or if they’ll look to try and take the game to Switzerland.
Switzerland may only need a point to finish second in the group but, like France, they look to be a team that is more comfortable going forward than defending, and we expect them to attack and create an open game. They’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last eight matches but in their final eight qualifiers for these Finals they scored 24 times. Given the limited attacks of 10-man Albania and Romania have caused them problems at times, the likes of Griezmann and Payet have the potential to give them a real headache. Yet, the last time they played a side in the top 10 of our rankings was in the Last 16 of the World Cup, where they held Lionel Messi and co to a goalless draw over 90 minutes. However, if we extend the sample to top-20 sides, they’ve gone W1-D1-L3 since then while conceding eight times including at least once in each match. Furthermore, before that draw with Argentina they were beaten 5-2 by France in the group stage, in the last meeting between these two sides.
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France may have won 11 of their last 12 matches, but question marks remain over their defence, and while Albania rarely looked to attack the Swiss should cause them a few more problems and eight of their last 11 matches have had at least three goals. They might find that easier to combat than a team parking the bus, though, and they’ve won six of their seven home matches against teams ranked 11th-30th since the start of 2013, with four wins by more than one goal.
Since 1992, there have been 14 final group stage matches at Euros, World Cups or Copas where one side has been on six points and the other four: 11 of these matches have had at least three goals while the better placed has gone W7-D4-L3, which improves to W5-D3-L1 when they were also the higher ranked team and not playing away.
Four points is more than the average number of points for third place at any of the last four Euro Championships so the Swiss look assured of at least taking one of the four best third-placed spots and, therefore, this is something of a free shot at winning the group if they can beat the hosts. We don’t think they will though, and the match outcome prices look about right, but Over 2.5 Goals is worth backing at odds-against.
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