Euro 2016: Preview of the second round of group stage matches
The Euros are well underway and the first round of group stage matches have brought us plenty of thrills and spills. While fancied teams like France, Spain and Germany secured victories, they were a couple of shocks as well such as Hungary beating Austria 2-0, Italy’s victory over Belgium and Portugal being held by Iceland.
The action is only going to hot up in the second round of group stage matches with plenty of exciting and interesting match ups heading our way in round 2 of the group stages.
Group A – France, Switzerland, Romania, Albania
France and Switzerland both scored narrow victories over Romania and Albania respectively and they will be looking forward to continuing their momentum. Romania face Switzerland while France take on Albania. All the 4 teams know the importance of these matches as a defeat or victory at this stage can decide who gets to qualify to the knockout stages and who does not.
The host nations France are highly favoured to beat Albania, but Switzerland can testify that Albania are no pushovers. Although they are ranked relatively low at 42, they have players who can trouble any opposition. France themselves did not look too convincing in their opening match against Romania with only a stunning late winner from Dimitri Payet securing the result. However, France look too strong for the Albanian squad and they will be hoping to secure their spot in the next round with a routine victory.
The other match of the group pits Switzerland and Romania. Romania defend very well and it looks like it will be a low-scoring game. Switzerland are slight favourites due to the presence of stars like Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, but a draw looks like the most likely result.
Prediction – France to win against Albania, Switzerland being held to a draw against Romania.
Group B – England, Wales, Russia, Slovakia
One of the most intriguing groups in the tournament, Group B kicks off with Russia facing Slovakia followed by the huge match, England vs Wales. In the first round of matches, England played out a 1-1 draw against Russia, however, the match was remembered more for the ugly clashes between the fans rather than the result itself.
Wales meanwhile, secured an impressive 2-1 victory over Slovakia and they will be relishing the opportunity to play against England. Russia have struggled recently to secure victories with only one win coming in their last 5 matches. Slovakia headed into the tournament on the back of a stunning 3-1 victory against Germany but a loss against Wales makes this a crucial clash for them. Slovakia against Russia might not be high on thrills, but the importance of the game cannot be discounted.
England against Wales will definitely be one of the matches to watch out for. Although many would expect England’s young team to get a favourable result against Wales, one cannot ignore the impressive Wales side led by Gareth Bale. All in all, this round of matches in group B is certainly going to be a topsy-turvy affair.
Prediction – Slovakia to secure a narrow victory over Russia, England to edge out Wales.
Group C – Germany, Poland, Northern Ireland, Ukraine
Poland and Germany both secured relatively comfortable victories over Northern Ireland and Ukraine and both Germany and Poland will be confident of progressing through to the next round. One of the matches to look out for in this round is the epic clash between Germany and Poland.
Germany are playing with one of the youngest squads in the tournament and although they do not seem to have any weaknesses, this experienced Poland side might cause quite a few problems. Robert Lewandowski against Jerome Boateng will be one of the battles to watch out for.
Northern Ireland vs Ukraine will be a crucial match for both the teams as a defeat to either of them can spell doom. Although Ukraine lost 2-0 against Germany, there were glimpses of quality from them and Ukraine will be backing themselves to get the better of Northern Ireland.
Prediction – I am going to stick my neck out and predict a victory for Poland against Germany, In the other game, Ukraine to get the better of Northern Ireland.