The second international tournament out of 3 this summer will begin in France, which is EURO 2016. This tournament generally is considered one of the best tournaments around the world, on par with the World Cup in the eyes of many, as it has most of the top teams in the world.
Russia did surprisingly much better than I expected in their first game, and stole out a great point late on against the English to keep their chance of qualifying in the top 2 spots alive. Now they take on a Slovakia team, who worked really hard but were un-done by a late Robson-Kanu goal to lose 2-1 against the Welsh.
Russia despite question marks on their central defenders did well to hold on for long periods against the English, but I put the lack of goals more down to the poor creativity and finishing of the English rather than the good defending of the Russians. Russia consistently felt the pressure and Akinfeev was lucky that he had 4 shots on target that went straight to his body. Russia did show us on the offensive end that they have the talent to deliver, but did show us the pace on the counter attacking through Dzyuba, Kokorin and Smolov. They didn’t have as many shots as they sat and waited for England to attack and kept try to catch them on the break and at one point it looked as if they would net first. Russia have now netted a goal in 10 straight games, and you expect them to find the back of the net once again tonight.
Slovakia played a good game against Wales, had a lot of shots on target as well as a lot of possession, but could not convert them into more goal scoring opportunities. They relied a lot on the class of Marek Hamsik who controlled most of the play and created many opportunities. The over-reliance on him is always going to be a liability as the defence will aim to contain him and there by Slovakia. Their other players such as Weiss, Duris and Mak need to step up to the plate in order to perform better. The loss to Wales resulted in their 8 game unbeaten run coming to an end, and will want to perform better as they would like to qualify to the knockout stages of the tournament.
Russia have kept just 2 clean sheets in their previous 16 European Champions matches while Slovakia have netted in 7 out of their last 9 games. With both teams looking to win this game to try and progress to the next stage, I am backing Both Teams to Score in the Russia v Slovakia encounter.
Switzerland are coming to take on Romania knowing the fact that they should they beat the Romanians in this game, they would already be qualified to the knockout stages. The Swiss were extremely frustrated by the 10-men Albanians las time around, but only have their poor finishing in front of goal to blame for that. Their forwards Seferovic, Shaqiri and Mehmedi were not as impressive as many expected of them. The talented front 3 have had excellent seasons for their club, and they were expected to perform much better than last time around. The experienced defensive line up of Lichsteiner, Rodriguez, Djorou and Schar managed to keep the Albanians at bay, and securing a clean sheet will do them a world of good coming into this encounter.
The Romanians played well against France, were lucky to get an equalising goal due to a penalty, and then were unlucky to concede a cracking effort from Dmitri Payet late on in that fixture. They stifled the French for the first half of the game, before some brilliant creativity helped them break open the deadlock. The Romanians have a big problem when trying to score up front against the better sides, and that might be a problem against the Swiss defence who were efficient in their last encounter. Borden Stancu was responsible for both their shots on target, and while the others barely had an attempt. Vlad Chirches and Razvan Rat both picked up bookings in the opening encounter and have shown to pick up bookings when the situation is tense and difficult.
Switzerland have had their favourite scoreline as 1-0 for many games in the recent past, while Romania games generally in their group have been tighter and I expect this to be a very tight game. I am backing Switzerland Draw No Bet to beat Romania and if its a draw, you get your money back.
France come into this game against Albania with some cracking form behind them. They managed to put in a solid performance against Romania, but need it a special goal in order to see them through to the next round. France will feel confident with the win in front of their home fans. Both Giroud and Greizmann were in cracking form, while Payet was nicely pulling the strings in midfield. Paul Pogba has yet to stamp his authority in the tournament, and will use this match as an opportunity to do so, and lead his team to the next round. France have had the scoring touch well and their last 5 straight games in 2016 seeing them have over 2.5 goals in their games.
Albania had put in a good effort to keep the Swiss down just to 1-0 in their last game, despite going down to 10 men. The Albanian will struggle to contain these French team, who dominate the midfield, that will be area of concern fro Albania especially with captain Cana out of this encounter due to the red card. Albania have the poorest offensive coming into this game 7 goals from 8 games. Unless you can score against the French, there is no way that you will be able to beat them, especially with their offensive form in full strut.
These 2 sides met back in qualification for the 2012 European Championships, and both those games saw France win and over 2.5 goals scored in that encounter; and I am backing over 2.5 goals in the match between France & Albania.
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