Thursday, 9 June 2016

Group A (Fra, Swi, Alb, Rom) Preview

Before we actually get to the preview, let us answer the question I posed in the opening post. It was actually a trick question. 

A clever answer was the Faroe Islands, which is nearest to Iceland, but the Faroes are not actually an independent country, it is an autonomous region of Denmark with its own sports teams.

Someone suggested Scotland, which would be the next nearest landmass, but whatever the result of the Brexit ballot,
I don't think the Scots consider themselves very European, so the answer is really Norway. 

While we are mentioning the Scots, let us remember that they are the only one of the five teams from the British Isles, who didn't actually qualify for the tournament, which led the betting firm Paddy Power to come up with this rather amusing advert

Anyway, back to the matter in hand, the Euros always have the host nation playing in the opening game, which of course this year means France will be playing Romania to kick us off. The other two teams in this group are Switzerland and debutants Albania.

France are an enigma, they have so many talented players with plenty of Gallic flair and a spicy Garlic bite, that they surely must be one of the favourites for the title. 
But and it is a big but, playing at home can be a blessing in disguise as there is nowhere to hide if things start to go wrong and the pressure of expectation begins to rise.

As it is well known throughout history, the French have always been quick to wave the white flag at the first sign of trouble. 
They will need to imbue the spirit of the Maid of Orleans, Jeanne d'Arc, rather than the defeatism of Marshall Petain, if they are to succeed.

What can we say about Romania, the country of Vlad the Impaler (who may or may not have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker when he wrote Dracula) and Ceausescu, Romania is a rather dour Eastern European country still trying to recover from the ravages of its communist ruled years. 
In football terms, they reflect this rather grey description. Their record in qualifying for the tournament was as follows: played 10, won 5, drawn 5, lost 0, goals scored 11 and conceded 2.  Impressive in itself but rather boring.
Don't expect fireworks whilst watching Romania, unless ISIS decide to crash the party.

Switzerland used to be rubbish at football, (I expect some wag to write they still are) but then despite being known as an incredibly xenophobic people, they decided to make an exception and let in lots of footballers of Turkish and Albanian or Kosovar descent, so that there may be up to 15 ethnic Albanians playing when the two counties face each other on Saturday. 
There is a very high probability that the Xhaka brothers (thank god I only need to write that and not enunciate it) will be going head to head, Granit for Switzerland and Taulant for Albania, which I imagine although I haven't checked will be a first for world football.
Covering the Albanian games is gong to be a commentators nightmare.  (How does one pronounce Xhaka ? phonetic answers in the comments section please)
I hope Albania do well and indeed as I get to the prediction part of the blog, I will take a punt on them being runners up to France in this group or at least being one the best four third place teams and moving on into the last 16.
Then maybe we can talk about King Zog who ruled Albania until 1939.

Four to watch (the top two are the brothers)

Taulant the Albanian Hardman
Granit The Swiss Playmaker

Pogba most stupid Hair Cut ?
Vlad Chiriches Just for 1st name

The preview for Group B will follow tomorrow, until then Adieu.


  1. Speaking a proud Scotsman, I can say that we feel truly European. What could be more European than being pissed as a newt at 10am whilst manhandling a haggis and reading the poetry of the great Bobby Burns! Och aye the noo!!

  2. I would have said the spiciest bite in football belongs to Suarez.

  3. Did the Vieri brother come up in competitive football? That would be Max and Judas, I mean Christian

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  5. It's pronounced Shaka.

    And Iceland is nearest to Greenland, which is part of Denmark. And if you disallow that it's closer to Ireland than Norway.