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Euro 2016 Group A: Payet to pull strings and propel France past Albania

Holly Thackeray | June 13, 2016

France v Albania

  • Euro 2016 Group A
  • Wednesday, June 15th
  • Kick-off: 20:00
  • Stade Velodrome, Marseille
  • Live on ITV

Les Bleus can iron out creases against Romania

After seeing off stubborn Romania in their opening Euro 2016 Group A game, hosts France now turn their attention to underdogs Albania, against whom they have won four of six previous encounters, losing only once.

As established continental heavyweights, and featuring a squad flush with elite players, Didier Deschamps’ men are clear odds-on 2/9 favourites with Coral, as Les Bleus seek to banish the memories of their 2015 friendly warm-up defeat to the Eagles, with a disappointing draw the precursor in 2014.

Albania France Soccer

Not too much should be read into those preceding scuffles, however, as Albania were then seeking to establish an identity while France fumbled having been automatic qualifiers for the Euros.

Now, of course, there is much more to play for, with France focusing on thrilling an expectant home crowd, determined to fulfill a tag as tournament favourites.

Of course, the Albanians will take heart from their scalping of the French, and Italian tactician Gianni De Biasi will be aware a point at least is required, after the Eagles were felled 1-0 by closely connected Switzerland in their first foray.

Odds of 11/1 for the outsiders to win seem unlikely, as Albania have never beaten their French foes in four previous Euro preliminary or group qualifying encounters.

Payet picked out as man of the moment

At times, despite being dominant, France (6/4 to win both halves) made hard work of their opener against robust Romania and can take this chance to perfect their game plan before bigger opposition looms in the final group game with Switzerland.

Albania boast a few similarities with the Romanians, who tried to target Les Bleus’ weakened backline with set pieces, and proved tough to break down.

De Biasi’s boys are equally belligerent and will hope for a frustrating 5/1 draw, which is where West Ham United playmaker extraordinaire Dimitri Payet comes in.

EURO France Romania NG

It appears unthinkable now that Deschamps could have taken to the tournament without outstanding attacker Payet in the set-up, with the French set-piece threat having to force his way back into his compatriot coach’s thinking this year.

But, included he is, and the Hammers hero ran the show against Romania alongside midfield menace N’Golo Kante, rather than the lauded Paul Pogba (10/3 to notch anytime), with his sensational winning strike the cherry on the cake. Punters can therefore plump for Payet at a generous 6/4 anytime punt, or 9/2 for the final say again after notching in three of his last four France fixtures.

See Payet’s stunner again:

While, Olivier Giroud has popped up with an opening goal in as many of his past two outings and is 7/2 to go under the radar again and repeat, while Antoine Griezmann (10/11 anytime) came so close versus Tricolorii and is the last Frenchman to have dispatched past Albania.

Albania agitating to show potential

The Eagles endured an agonising opening loss to the Swiss, and will at the very least be intent upon illustrating the famous spirit that got them to this tournament.

Soccer Euro 2016 Albania Switzerland

Boss De Biasi said days before the tournament: “I don’t want us to be tourists in France. Fairytales can happen.” It looks as though they may need one, and the likes of ex-Basel forward Shkelzen Gashi (11/2) and Zurich-owned Armando Sadiku (4/1) are their best bets to bag against Les Bleus.

Though, it was Greece-based midfield shield Ergys Kace (8/1) who grabbed that last memorable winner versus France and with former Premier League face and captain Lorik Cana seeing red and suspended for this duel, Kace could prove crucial.

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Coral’s top tip: Payet looks a plum bet at 9/2 to strike the final blow.

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