On paper, four points from the opening two games of Euro 2016 represents a reasonable haul for Switzerland, but their rewards would surely have been greater had they been more ruthless in front of goal. An early header to beat Albania was not added to despite several further chances being created, while more profligacy against Romania meant their overall dominance counted for relatively little.
Young forward Breel Embolo looks a very good prospect, but at present his overall game is not quite polished and as a result he has not yet been given a start at this tournament. Instead the responsibility has been on the shoulders of Haris Seferovic, who is a strong presence as the lone striker but is badly lacking in terms of finishing ability.
And therein lies the problem with Switzerland – there are no natural goalscorers in their side, which undermines the immense creative talent in midfield areas. Admir Mehmedi eventually applied a terrific finish to earn a draw with Romania, but it could have been so much more.
Just a point against hosts France will be enough to ensure their place in the last 16, although with four points already on the board it would be a surprise should they fail to progress. The two sides are very used to facing each other at major finals, with the Swiss hoping to gain revenge for a 5-2 thrashing they suffered at the hands of Didier Deschamp’s men at the 2014 World Cup.
On Wednesday France became the first side to go through, courtesy of two late goals which ended the stubborn resistance of Albania. It was far from a convincing performance, but the growing pressure told in the final minute of normal time as Antonie Griezmann found space to head home before the maestro Dimitri Payet made the scoreline extremely flattering by netting a second.
There is an array of attacking options in the French ranks and it appears that Deschamps is still not sure as to what is his best side, having given starts to Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial against Albania. Both were substituted, with Martial making way for the dropped Paul Pogba. Whichever XI takes to the field, they must perform better in the games ahead if they are to fulfil their potential at Euro 2016.
The new format of these Championships is such that both sides involved in Sunday’s other match hold an interest. Despite two defeats without scoring for Albania, there is still a slim chance of qualifying as one of the four best third-placed teams, so they will go all out for victory over Romania, who also need maximum points.
Predicted to be almost completely out of their depth at this tournament, Albania have gained plaudits and have posed problems for two very good opponents, so they should be confident against Romania provided they can find their scoring boots.
As for Romania, they were fortunate to draw against Switzerland and were visibly tiring towards the end. A big effort is needed here, but they know that victory would give them an excellent chance of heading through. It should be a tight battle, but both sides will not hold back in attempting to seize their opportunity.
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