MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Group A’s second round fixture as Romania take on Switzerland from the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
Romania v Switzerland | Wednesday 15.00 | ITV
A resolute Romania fell to a spectacular late Dimitri Payet winner in the opening match of Euro 2016 against hosts France on Friday. But the Tricolorii are determined to bounce back when they face Switzerland on Wednesday in Paris.
Defeat to France leaves the Tricolorii winless in opening games at European Championship finals (W0-D3-L2). But Anghel Iordanescu’s men can take plenty of positives out of their pointless performance.
Romania showed why they had the best defensive record in qualifying and also created a number of decent chances at the Stade de France to cause the French plenty of problems. It was a surprisingly aggressive display from the off with Bogdan Stancu denied an early opener by Hugo Lloris’ excellent reflexes.
France were unable to find any fluency against the Tricolorii and Les Bleus’ star-studded attack had to wait until the 58th minute to make the breakthrough. But Romania responded within seven minutes, with Stancu scoring from the penalty spot before Payet’s fabulous finish late on.
For Switzerland, Die Nati were fortunate to escape with a maximum point haul after being run close in a hotly contested game against 10-man Albania in Lens on Saturday. It was Switzerland’s first opening-game win in four attempts at the Euros and brings Vladimir Petkovic’s men level on points with France.
Fabian Schar’s header proved crucial after goalkeeper Etrit Berisha flapped at Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner. Despite the Swiss’ control of play, Albania fluffed a number of golden opportunities with Die Nati stopper Yann Sommer coming to the rescue on more than one occasion.
The fact that Switzerland did not capitalise on their numerical advantage was mostly down to Haris Seferovic, who wasted several good positions. And Petkovic said post-match, “I was not afraid of losing our lead, but we should have scored more. The first 20 minutes were very important and very good. After that, we played backwards too much and allowed them back into the game.”
Xherdan Shaqiri’s assist means the Stoke schemer has now had a hand in nine goals in his past eight competitive appearances for Switzerland but Die Nati looked a little too reliant on the barrel-chested playmaker for invention.
Switzerland scored 24 goals during qualification but 21 came against Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino as they failed to score in three of their four fixtures against England or Slovenia. Again against Albania, Petkovic’s side appeared a little rudderless at times and a dysfunctioning attack could prove costly here.
Romania showed what they’re capable of in forward areas against the French and should the Tricolorii show more composure in the final third, they could make a poor Swiss centre-half partnership between Johan Djourou and Schar pay.
Romania can be backed at 25/29 with Netbet with a +0/0.50 Asian Handicap start. Backing this selection would see us receive a half-stakes pay-out should the underdogs pick up a point with a full-stakes profit made if Romania win the match; it’s an excellent way to support the Tricolorii with the draw onside.
I’ve seen Switzerland regress since the 2014 World Cup and evidence across both Group A openers would suggest the underdogs are more than capable of picking up a positive result.
Meanwhile, Romania’s opener was only their ninth in 23 competitive clashes since Euro 2012 to have featured more than three goals. During qualification, Iordanescu’s men saw nine of their 10 matches produce Under 2.5 Goals winners with Both Teams To Score banking only twice.
Surprisingly, Switzerland have also proven stingy in the goals column in recent years. Die Nati’s 1-0 success over Albania was the 14th fixture in 25 meaningful matches across the past four years to fall below the 2.5 goals line as both sides have net in just seven of those contests.
With Under 2.5 Goals prohibitively short at 20/39, it might well be worth snapping up the 20/29 (NetBet) value on Both Teams To Score ‘No’. Cumulatively, it’s paid out in 34/48 (71%) competitive encounters since Euro 2012, a percentage success rate that would suggest odds of 2/5.
With three points already on the board, Switzerland can focus on staying solid and picking up a point that would guarantee progression to the knockout stages.
With that in mind, it’s debatable how cavalier Die Nati will opt to be here but with Romania proving a tough nut to crack and unlikely to stray too far away from their tried-and-trusted formula – despite their position in the group – keeping the underdogs onside in a low-scoring encounter appears our best option.