MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Group A’s concluding clash between France and Switzerland with top spot up for grabs.
France v Switzerland | Sunday 20.00
Hosts France take on Switzerland on Sunday in the final round of Group A games from Euro 2016. With the two nations perched comfortably on six and four points respectively, this contest is likely to decide who’ll top the pool.
France have already guaranteed their place in the Last-16 thanks to late victories against both Romania and Switzerland. Les Blues are rated 20/21 (Netbet) shots to conclude the group-stage with a 100% record by claiming another victory here.
Switzerland know their points tally should almost guarantee them a place in the knockout stages but Die Nati will want the point required to cement second in the group.
Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet’s late goals saw France edge past Albania to become the first side to reach the Euro 2016 knockout stage.
Albania struck the post shortly after half-time when Ledian Memushaj bundled a cross past France keeper Hugo Lloris. And France forward Olivier Giroud also hit the upright before substitute Griezmann ended Albania’s resistance by nodding in Adil Rami’s right-wing cross.
Payet stroked in with the final kick to give the scoreline a flattering look as Les Bleus notched with the game’s only two shots-on-target, often struggling to break down a stubborn Albanian defence.
For all the attacking talent in Didier Deschamps’ squad, it’s taken goals in the 89th and 90th minutes for France to win their first two matches, as they’ve been held to a pair of goalless opening halves.
Nevertheless, the hosts have now won 11 of their last 12 matches and despite their toils, the side have been scoring freely. However, question marks remain over the French defence, which was rarely tested by a negative Albania side, but has conceded in five of their last seven.
Switzerland deservedly shared the spoils with Romania in a scrappy second game. But Die Nati failed to make their early chances pay yet again, with Haris the main culprit, missing two clear-cut opportunities.
Bogdan Stancu’s penalty gave Romania an 18th-minute lead and although the underdogs remained dangerous on the break, Switzerland dominated possession before finally finding the leveller in the 57th minute – Admir Mehmedi with an unstoppable first-time strike from 12 yards.
Vladimir Petkovic’s outfit fired in 19 shots in total but nine of those efforts were off-target as the killer instinct eluded the group for the second successive encounter. But like France, the Swiss are more comfortable going forward than defending and that should lead us towards an enjoyable match.
Switzerland were thrashed 5-2 – actually trailing 5-0 with 10 minutes to go – when the duo locked horns at the World Cup two years ago and although a repeat appears unlikely, France should find it easier to penetrate the dodgy Die Nati defence here and justify their 20/21 favouritism.
The final group games often feature more goals and the trends say that since 1992, the third pool fixture at European Championships have seen Over 2.5 land in 59% of matches – as opposed to 36% in the first and second matches.
France have seen three or more goals feature in eight of their last 11 outings and with Switzerland keeping a solitary shutout in eight, goals should be our path to profit here. Over 2.5 Goals is backable at 6/5 (Netbet) and worth our interest.
With the pressure off, both sides should enjoy more freedom and space on the ball to attack and play without caution. The pair are at home when playing on the front foot and we should, in theory, be treated to an open contest.
France will be keen to continue their winning streak and build momentum ahead of the knockout phase and backing Les Blues to do the business in a goal-heavy games looks the best option to take.