2016 Euros Group A
Group A includes the hosts, France, Albania, Romania and my home country, Switzerland.
FIFA Ranking: 14
I’m under no illusions that the Swiss will win the tournament. Having said that, they were the only team to beat Spain at the 2010 World Cup and while defensively quite strong, they struggle to score goals. Players to look out for include Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) and captain Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus). An example of the goal-scoring woes comes in the form of wide man Shaqiri having 17 goals versus 10 from center forward Eren Derdiyok, while only having played one more match (52/51).
FIFA Ranking: 19
Romania have reached the last 8 on three occasions, most recently a quarter-final in 2000. In the current squad the most notable name is Costel Pantilimon, the 6ft8 keeper formerly of Manchester City and Sunderland. The rest of the squad play in minor leagues with many still based in Romania. If they impress, some might find their way to the big four leagues.
FIFA Ranking: 45
Albania are likely to be the team who lose all their matches at the tournament, although upsets and bold predictions usually come back to haunt one, I’m quite sure Albania will not progress from the group stage.
FIFA Ranking: 21
Without a doubt the tournament favourite playing at home in the 2016 tournament is the French team. A beautiful balance of older and younger players blend exceptional experience in Europe’s top 4 leagues with lightning pace. Didier Deschamps takes a side with Hugo Lloris (captain) of Spurs, Patrice Evra (Juventus), Eliaquim Mangala (Man City), Lucas Digne (Roma), Bacary Sagna (Man City), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), N’Golo Kanté (Leicester), Yohan Cabaye (QPR), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Morgan Schneiderlin (Man Utd), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Paul Pogba (Juventus),
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) and Anthony Martial (Man Utd) to name just the most prominent names.
French teams have imploded at previous tournaments. Most notably after winning the World Cup in 98 they have suffered two first round exits but the team includes fantastic options and talent across all positions and barring an absolute catastrophe they should progress as group winners to the next round. Switzerland may join them and Romania are the dark horses in my opinion with the result against Switzerland probably deciding their fate.