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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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Good evening, everyone.

It’s time to settle Group A and the hosts will look to claim maximum points and continue their solid momentum.

But a loss for the Swiss and a victory for Romania against Albania and it all gets very interesting.

We’ll be monitoring both games.

France are taking on the Swiss in Lille tonight and here’s what they’ve gone with regarding a starting lineup.

As expected, plenty of changes.

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So, Didier Deschamps makes five changes from the side that just about got the better of Albania.

Cabaye, Sissoko, Pogba, Griezmann and Gignac all come in while Kante, Giroud, Matuidi, Payet and Martial make way.

 

For the Swiss, under-fire and under-performing attacker Haris Seferović has been dropped so teenager Breel Embolo is given a shot up front.

Switzerland will try and exorcise some demons tonight.

It was two years ago when they suffered a thumping 5-2 group stage defeat to France with Moussa Sissoko one of the scorers that night in Salvador.

Brazil Soccer WCup Switzerland France Source: Christophe Ena

So, we all love the permutations that go along with final group fixtures.

This is no different.

Andre Pierre Gignac is probably a name you’ll remember.

He was part of the French World Cup squad in 2010 and despite recapturing his form at Marseille in 2014/2015, he decided to head for Mexico and joined Tigres.

He’s been a resounding success there and talked of becoming a naturalised Mexican citizen earlier this year.

Kante and Giroud, by the way, are both on yellow cards so that’s why they’ve been rested tonight.

1Mins

And we’re underway in both games.

4Mins

Early corner for France but it’s cleared and the Swiss were on the counter immediately. Embolo, the 19-year-old striker, has already looked good in some quick cameos.

45Mins

ROM v ALB: Early chance for Romania too – Hoban, not related to the League of Ireland’s Patrick, by the way, sent in a low shot that the Albanian keeper Berisha made a meal of. He spilled it in front of him but his defenders got back to help him out.

9Mins

Crucial piece of defending from Adil Rami as France are outnumbered. Embolo slipped a pass across goal for the onrushing Lichtsteiner but the defender made a critical tackle.

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VERY CLOSE! Oh, my! From the in-swinging corner, there’s a slight touch at the near post and the ball comes off Pogba and deflects towards the corner. Djourou is on the ground, pretty much on the line, as he tries to flick it to the net but can’t quite engineer his body and France just about survive.

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VERY CLOSE! There’s Pogba at the other end. Gignac does really well to hold it up and feed it inside to the Juve midfielder. He settles himself and curls it to the top corner. Yann Sommer gets to it but it seems to slip through his hands and catches the top of the bar. Lucky escape for the Swiss.

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VERY CLOSE! And Pogba again! This time, takes a superb touch on the edge of the area and flicks to Coman. He gets it back. He drives the left-footer across goal towards the far corner but Sommer sticks out a strong hand to tip it away. That’s a super save. Great start to this game.

15Mins

Mixed start for Sommer – great save from Pogba, almost let a long-range shot drop in and then misses a corner too.

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VERY CLOSE! Pogba is just running this. He’s a man possessed! He races towards the area and pushes the ball onto his weaker left side. But it doesn’t matter. He thumps a glorious shot from distance that crashes back off the crossbar. It would’ve been the goal of the tournament if it went in. Arrowed towards the top corner. Sommer could only watch.

20Mins

ROM v ALB: Alibec did really well to evade a couple of challenges before curling the shot, on the run, towards the top corner. It just whistled past the upright. Romania have bossed things, inevitably.

21Mins

Here’s that Pogba shot. Look at the power, the technique. Incredibly clean strike.

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ROM v ALB: What a chance. We’ve seen some misses at this tournament so far and this is pretty bad. A swift break from Albania and they have numbers as they race towards the area. The ball is shipped to the right side and when the low cross comes in, it’s Lenjani stretching but somehow blazes it over the top. From about 6 yards.

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BOOKING! Rami has got a yellow card for a high boot in the area. Wonder if Cakir Cuneyt is watching? He was in charge of Ireland’s game with Belgium.

28Mins

Bit of a cracker here. Cabaye…that’s Crystal Palace’s Yohan Cabeye, races back and puts in a superb challenge on Blerim Dzemaili. Great zip to this.

31Mins

A lot could change between now and the end of the game but important in context of other teams chasing a best third-placed berth like both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

34Mins

Arsene Wenger is in Lille for this and gets to have another good look at new signing Granit Xhaka who’s in the Swiss midfield.

That’s Gerard Houllier alongside him.

Switzerland v France - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group A - Stade Pierre Mauroy Source: Empics Sports Photography Ltd.

Flag 45Mins

ROM v ALB: GOAL! Albania are in front and that’s Romania in big trouble here. I’m not sure what Tatarusanu is doing. The Romanian goalkeeper completely loses the cross in the air and Sadiku is at the far stick to nod back across him to the far corner.

45Mins

Scoreless in Lille between France and Switzerland. That would send them both through with the hosts unbeaten.

The BBC pundits reckon it’s been disappointing. The first 25 minutes, I felt, produced some cracking stuff with Pogba absolutely running the show. But it petered out as the half wore on.

Flag 45Mins

Meanwhile, Albania have their first ever goal at a major tournament and they can send Romania home with victory.

It would also mean they’ll take third place in the group on 3 points and that’s good news for a few other teams chasing a best third-placed berth.

47Mins

We’re back underway in both games, by the way.

52Mins

Good start from Switzerland here as they turn the screw a little bit. They’re pulling France wide and that’s not good for aging duo of Evra and Sagna.

55Mins

Gignac flashes in a shot but it’s easy for Sommer. Moments later, an error from Djourou leads to Griezmann racing in to nick it but Behrami gets back to make a crucial, last-ditch tackle. As he digs his foot in, his studs make the ball explode and we need a replacement. That’s a first.

59Mins

ROM v ALB: Another big blow for Romania as their main striker Alibec is forced off with injury. He’s replaced by Gabriel Torje. They still trail and need goals to remain in the tournament.

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CLOSE! Griezmann pops up with a cameo. He plays a lovely one-two with Gignac but gets underneath the right-footed shot and it’s pretty central. Sommer safely tips it over.

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SUBSTITUTION! Payet (on) – Coman (off)

The crowd desperately wanted to see Payet and he’ll be looking for his third goal of the tournament as he’s introduced.

69Mins

Looking ahead, these two will finish first and second in the group as it stands. That means France will take on the best third-placed team in Group C, D or E. So that could be the Republic of Ireland. Or, less likely, Northern Ireland.

Switzerland will take on the runner-up in Group C – currently Poland are in second place there, separated from Germany only on goal difference.

71Mins

ROM v ALB: Albania currently in third place but need to get their goal difference as high as possible. It’s currently at -2 and that may not be enough in battle for best third-placed ranking. They still lead Romania 1-0.

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SUBSTITUTION! Seferovic (on) – Embolo (off)

He’s had a few chances in this tournament but was dropped these evening. Big chance for Seferovic now again.

Flag 77Mins

VERY CLOSE! My word. Sissoko rampages up the right side and does his best Usain Bolt impression. He gets his head up and pings an inch-perfect ball across for Payet at the far post. He side-foots the volley towards goal but it crashes down off the underside of the bar and bounces to safety! What a goal it would’ve been!

Flag 80Mins

ROM v ALB: Oh, what a chance for Romania. Andone runs onto the through-ball into the right channel and thumps the shot towards the near post. But it smacks the crossbar and Albania survive. Will there be more from the Romanians here? They need two and there’s about 15 minutes left in their game.

84Mins

He’s been Man of the Match in his first two games. Arsenal fans should be pretty psyched to see him next season.

87Mins

Free-kick to France after brilliant keepy-uppy from Gignac. Payet territory. You have been warned.

88Mins

Oh! It’s come back off Matuidi and it looked like it was heading to the far corner!

92Mins

Awful from Sagna as he holds back Dzemaili as the cross comes in. It’s clear shirt-pulling but referee waves away the protests.

So, one game is completed. And that means France and Switzerland progress in first and second place.

They’re still playing in Lyon as Romania look for a miracle.

And there’s the final whistle and Albania still have a chance of making it through to the knockout stages. It’s unlikely. They have three points and a goal difference of -2 and I doubt that will be enough.

But still, an historic night for the country and those amazing fans can take a bow.

Romania v Albania - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group A - Stade de Lyon Source: Nick Potts

Here’s what that means for the final Group A table.

Hope for Albania now as they hang around for the rest of the week but may still have to head home at the end of it!

Table

Thanks for staying with us tonight.

Plenty more reaction still to come on the site throughout the evening.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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