Group A of Euro 2016 features the tournament hosts, Switzerland, Albania and Romania. France are huge favourites for the group and have several exciting players who are set to make their name this summer, arguably making them one of the most fancied teams for the tournament itself. There is also a lot of talent in the other three teams and although on paper, France should ease their way through, the other matches in the group will be intriguing to watch. Albania are debutants at the competition and could cause a few shocks, while Romania have some excellent young players coming through and could be one to watch.
Over the next couple of pages, we have picked out five players to watch from the first group of Euro 2016. Leave your thoughts on the selection in the comments below, and let us know if there are any others who should be closely observed as the tournament progresses.
Paul Pogba – The Juventus midfielder is without doubt the star of the French side and he will be integral to their hopes this summer. He is one of the leading players in world football and will want to help his country win the competition on home soil. If he manages to do that, he could enter the reckoning for the Ballon D’Or picture.
Pogba is a complete midfielder, capable of dictating play from deep, creating chances, driving forward with the ball and shooting from distance. This season for Juventus, he scored ten goals and racked up fourteen assists, which is an excellent return for a central midfielder, and he was hugely influential in the club’s record-breaking run to the league title.
France have a great deal of expectation on them and many see them as favourites to lift the trophy, so it will be interesting to observe how Pogba deals with the expectation.
This summer will determine if he belongs in the top bracket of players alongside Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo, or if he still has some way to go.
Breel Embolo – The FC Basel striker made his debut for the national side in 2015 and has emerged as a starter, which is impressive for a 19-year-old. Switzerland do not really possess a regular goal threat, with 14 players sharing the goals in qualifying.
In Embolo, they have a raw talent, who could become very good in the future. He has been scouted by the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United. The forward is likely to leave FC Basel this summer and he will see the European Championships as a great opportunity to showcase his talent.
He is a strong centre forward, capable to holding off challenges and beating defenders in the air, but he is also very quick, making him able to play a number of different roles. Embolo is arguably a fairly complete forward already, but remains inconsistent and can go missing in big matches, which is something that will improve with age.