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SBI Euro 2016 Preview: Group A


Already in the midst of Copa America madness in the United States, another massive tournament is getting set to take center stage in Europe as Euro 2016 begins on Friday.

SBI begins its group by group dissection of the tournament with Group A, which features host nation France, Switzerland, Albania and Romania.

While France and Switzerland will seen as sure things to advance, their two other opponents will each have something to say about that, boasting underrated talents.

Here is a closer look at all four teams in Group A:


Schedule (Times Eastern)

June 10- France vs. Romania (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3), 3 p.m.

June 11- Albania vs. Switzerland (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3), 9 a.m.

June 15Romania vs. Switzerland (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3), 12 p.m.

June 15- France vs. Albania (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3), 3 p.m.

June 19- Switzerland vs. France (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3), 3 p.m.

June 19- Romania vs. Albania (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3), 3 p.m.




PLAYERS TO WATCH– Shkëlzen Gashi, Armando Sadiku, Lorik Cana, Etrit Berisha

NAME TO LEARN– Etrit Berisha. Albania has a solid contingent of players currently in Italy, but Berisha is the one to know. Making appearances in 19 matches for Lazio this past season, the 27-year-old could be primed for a big summer with his native country.


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

Defenders- Lorik Cana (Nantes), Arlind Ajeti (Frosinone), Mergim Mavraj (Koln), 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), Ermir Lenjani (Nantes),Taulant Xhaka (Basel), Armir Abrashi (Freiburg)

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

OUTLOOK– Don’t sleep on Albania. While they may not boast the names that France or even Switzerland can, this is a squad full of youth and significant depth. The squad’s defense features Albania’s veterans which will help provide stability for their young attack. With third place teams eligible to advance out of the group stage, Kuq e Zinjtë will likely be in a fierce battle with Romania with that spot.




PLAYERS TO WATCH– Antoine Griezmann, Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante

NAME TO LEARN– Kingsley Coman. France is full of big-named players, and while Coman plies his trade at Bayern Munich, his age has prevented him from becoming a breakout star to this point. Euro 2016 could be his coming out party.


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

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

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

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

OUTLOOK– Injuries at the back have forced the French to bring in reinforcements, but this is still one of the most talented squads in Europe. It’s not a question of if France will advance but instead how far they’ll go. With an attack that features the likes of Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Anthony Martial, Les Bleus will be in search of their third European Championship title on home soil.




PLAYERS TO WATCH– Vlad Chiricheș, Răzvan Raț, Bogdan Stancu, Gabriel Torje

NAME TO LEARN– Gabriel Torje. Playing his club soccer in Turkey, Torje is the one that Romania will need to be in form in order to have success. The 26-year-old leads the current Romania roster in goals (11).


Goalkeepers- Ciprian Tătăruşanu (Fiorentina), Costel Pantilimon (Watford), Silviu Lung (Astra Giurgiu)

Defenders- Cristian Săpunaru (Pandurii Târgu Jiu), Alexandru Matel (Dinamo Zagreb), Vlad Chiricheş (Napoli), Valerică Găman (Astra Giurgiu), Cosmin Moţi (Ludogorets), Dragoş Grigore (Al-Sailiya), Răzvan Raţ (Rayo Vallecano), Steliano Filip (Dinamo Bucureşti)

Midfielders- Mihai Pintilii (Steaua Bucureşti), Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Beer Sheva), Andrei Prepeliţă (Ludogorets), Adrian Popa (Steaua Bucureşti), Gabriel Torje (Osmanlıspor), Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua Bucureşti), Nicolae Stanciu (Steaua Bucureşti), Lucian Sânmărtean (al-Ittihad)

Forwards- Claudiu Keșerü (Ludogorets), Bogdan Stancu (Gençlerbirliği), Florin Andone (Córdoba), Denis Alibec (Astra Giurgiu)

OUTLOOK– The French and Swiss will be seen as the clear favorites to advance out of Group A, but Romania has the potential do cause some surprises. Of their three opponents, the Tricolorii boast winning records against both Albania and Switzerland. If they can manage to take points from both those matches, particularly wins, they’ll be very hard to keep out of the Round of 16.




PLAYERS TO WATCH– Xherdan Shaqiri, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi

NAME TO LEARN– Valon Behrami. The Watford midfielder may be known to avid Premier League followers but he’s been an important piece in the Swiss lineup for years now, including making three World Cup appearances. He’ll be key in front of the backline.


Goalkeepers- Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Marwin Hitz (Augsburg)

Defenders- Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Johan Djourou (Hamburger SV), 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)

OUTLOOK– If you took the name away from Switzerland and looked at their squad, you could easily mistake them for one of Europe’s elite. Unfortunately throughout the team’s history, they haven’t had the success that they would probably like on the international stage. In only their fourth appearance at the European Championship, the Swiss will look to break the cycle of missing out on the knockout phase, and this should be the year they complete that task.


  1. France’s performance at big tournaments is so cyclical, especially at the WC. One tournament they win it or make the finals (1998, 2006), the next they can’t find their way out of a paper bag (2002, 2010). If they can get outside their heads and play as a team, I trust they will go far. Crazy to think how many of their big names (Benzema, Nasri) are in exhile, but they are so deep at every position.

    • They are not deep in defense. Many french – notoriously cynical – don’t think they’ll win for that reason. But in addition, of the tournaments you mention there is a very good explanation why they won or nearly won, which is Zidane (2002 pulled his hammy really bad and was completely useless). And his real star performance was in 2000, for the Euros which France won. He was incredible and so was that team. This year’s squad doesn’t compare. Although their attack is good, there is no Zizou, and the Desailly, Blanc, Thuram, Lizarazu back-four never once lost a game when playing together.

  2. France has a very talented group. And Morgan Schneiderlin is French. I had no idea. With that last name I just assumed he was German. I wonder why Barnetta wasn’t included in the Swiss squad. I think he still looks very good. Maybe they wanted to go younger.

      • Kind of figured that. For those who don’t know, Alsace-Lorraine has been a political football excanging hands between France and Germany multiple times over the last couple of centuries.

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