A look at Group A at Euro 2016

A look at the teams and their key players and coach in Group A at the European Championship:


France's preparations to win the Euros for the third time have been overshadowed by off-field matters, with top striker Karim Benzema not making the squad due to his involvement in an extortion scam over a sex tape, but its squad is deep and rich with talent.

Playing at home will be a huge factor, as has been shown in the past France won Euro 84 and the 1998 World Cup in front of its own fans.

PAUL POGBA: The Juventus star is one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe, with his valuation in the 100-million euros bracket.

For France, Pogba has yet to justify that reputation but Euro 2016 is his big chance to become France's new midfield maestro and follow in the footsteps of Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini.

HUGO LLORIS: For many years, there were doubts about whether the softly spoken goalkeeper was vocal and commanding enough to be France's captain. That is no longer up for debate.

He has come of age at Tottenham, and is one of Europe's top goalies with his outstanding reflexes saves and qualities as a backline sweeper.

COACH DIDIER DESCHAMPS: Who better to lead France to glory than the man who captained Les Bleus to success at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000? As a ball-winning midfielder, Deschamps won everything in a glittering career and then coached France to the World Cup quarterfinals in Brazil last year.

He has instilled a rigid sense of discipline and pride into a side more prone to inconsistency and histrionics in recent years.


For a country that spent nearly half the last century in international isolation, it's hard to overstate the emotions associated with Albania's qualification to its first major tournament.

Football once offered the tiny Balkan country a rare chance to interact with the outside world, but for 25 years since the fall of communism Albania never got past the qualifiers. Until now.

LORIC CANA: The team's captain at the heart of the defense. Born in neighboring Kosovo, Cana is Albania's best-known player after stints at Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Sunderland, Galatasaray, Lazio and currently Nantes. Expected to retire from the national team after the finals.

LEDIAN MEMUSHAJ: One of Albania's hardworking midfielders, tasked with out-running and out-tackling opponents. Memushaj plays in Italy for second-division club Pescara.

COACH GIOVANNI DE BIASI: The Italian coach swiftly ended squabbles in the national team when he took over five years ago, attracting players back and producing a more professional environment.

As a player and coach, he was involved at multiple clubs around Italy, but has probably never been more adored than in his adopted home.


Taking advantage of a relatively weak qualifying group, Romania went unbeaten to reach just its second major tournament since Euro 2000  the swansong for Gheorghe Hagi.

A resolute side, which conceded only two goals in qualifying, will arrive at Euro 2016 without a defining star player.

RAZVAN RAT: Now 34, the captain is one of very few squad members with tournament experience at Euro 2008. Rat made his 100th appearance during qualifying.

LUCIAN SANMARTEAN: A player touted as the most talented Romanian since Gheorghe Hagi could finally play in a major tournament at age 36. Like his captain Rat, Sanmartean made his Romania debut in 2002 yet his appearance total stands at only 16.

COACH ANGHEL IORDANESCU: Romania's revival owes much to a national great in his third stint as coach. Iordanescu's first time around was with a golden Hagi-led generation at Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup, which is the last time Romania qualified.

He gave up a political career and seat in the national Senate before returning for his third spell last year after Euro 2016 qualifying started.


Switzerland is looking to break out of its losing tournament habits in France. For the past two decades, Switzerland has failed to advance from any European Championship group in three attempts and routinely exits the World Cup in the first knockout round.

This year, a round-of-16 place is the least of the ambitions of a team well established in the top 20 of the FIFA rankings.

XHERDAN SHAQIRI: Shaqiri has already been to two World Cups, played for two of Europe's biggest clubs (Bayern Munich and Inter Milan) and has a Champions League winner's medal. Yet there is a nagging sense of unfulfilled potential about the stocky little playmaker.

RICARDO RODRIGUEZ: In a talented generation of maturing Swiss players, Rodriguez is perhaps the most wanted by Europe's leading clubs. He is tall and powerful for a left-back, combining attacking flair with defensive solidity.

COACH VLADIMIR PETKOVIC: Few national team coaches have had a day job outside football like Petkovic. In a long coaching apprenticeship in quiet corners of the Swiss league, Petkovic worked for a religious charity in the Italian-speaking region.

The Bosnian-Croat has spent most of his playing and coaching career in Switzerland.