Sunday, 19 June 2016
Group A Final Matches
On the menu today, France v Switzerland and Albania v Romania, hardly cordon bleu fare with both matches to be played simultaneously at 19.00 GMT.
This is the type of evening where one could easily decide to skip the football, spend some time with their spouse/partner to earn some brownie points and check on the results in the morning.
However, the lot of your faithful servant is to still try and find something informative to write about these games.
The French have already assured themselves of qualification for the knock out stages with victories in their first two games. To be honest both of these have been achieved with very late goals, the winner against Romania came in the 89th minute and they only managed to take the lead against Albania in the 90th minute before scoring a second.
As I wrote in my preview about France, the pressure on them is immense, but so far they have managed to deliver, albeit by the skin of their teeth . Today there is no pressure, the manager can experiment and try out reserve players to see how they perform.
As for the Swiss, they have almost certainly done enough to qualify, in fact they only need a draw to be certain so I don't predict a very exciting match to take place here.
There is a lot more riding on the second game, in which Romania face Albania. Both teams need a win, a draw and they are both out, so this means they will both have to change their modus operandi of defensive minded football and this is will be be good for anyone who actually bothers to watch this game.
Let us remember that both these countries spent years under strict corrupt totalitarian rule.It has taken a long time for them to shake off the mindset that this produced of not doing anything to draw attention to oneself.
Everyone has heard of Ceausescu, and his cult of personality, but not many I suspect of the Albanian dictator of 40 years Enver Xoxha. He was an adherent of the Stalinist school of leadership, absolute terror, regular purges of anyone who might threaten his position and summary mass executions.
Given this, it is not surprising that Albania have managed two shots so far in 180 minutes of football and both Romanian goals have come from penalty kicks that they have been awarded.
In my preview I picked Albania and one cannot change one's position despite what has taken place so far.
Albania to win this, end up on three points and hope that will be enough to get them through to the next stage.