Both sides head into the game having experienced contrasting fortunes in their respective opening games; Romania were beaten 2-1 by France while Switzerland defeated a fighting Albania 1-0, courtesy of Fabian Schar’s early goal.
Opening games brought differing experiences
Tricolorii were especially unlucky to taste defeat against the hosts; Dimitri Payet’s superb late goal clinched a victory for Les Bleus, but Romania were much harder to beat than was expected of them. Having gone behind through Olivier Giroud’s header midway through the second half, Bogdan Stancu levelled the score from the penalty spot as the game drew to a close. A draw would arguably have been a fair result, but West Ham’s talisman, Payet, produced a moment of magic that everyone had become accustomed to from his brief current spell in the Premier League.
Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland will look back on their feisty affair with Albania and see many areas in which they will need to improve before the take on Romania. Having gone ahead in the fifth-minute, Rossocrociati failed to make the game comfortable, even after Albania were reduced to ten-men nine minutes before half-time. Striker Haris Seferovic had two golden opportunities to score, but found Etrit Berisha in superb form in the Albania goal, and Petkovic will feel his side will have to take their chances – something France almost failed to do last Friday.
Both sides advanced to the finals of the competition by finishing runners-up in their qualifying group. Romania sat just a place – and a point - below Northern Ireland, despite being unbeaten for the whole campaign. Inconsistency was often their downfall, having drawn five of their ten games in qualifying Group F and scoring just eleven goals.
Switzerland also qualified relatively comfortably - winning seven of their ten game, although three defeats left a few doubts. England stormed Group E – winning all ten games – and Petkovic’s side finished nine points below, and five points above third-placed Slovenia.
With no new injuries, both sides will most probably start the game with the same line-ups that started their respective opening games, with the only exception being the likely inclusion of youngster Breel Embolo in the Swiss side, having returned from injury to feature in an impressive cameo against Albania. Seferovic will keep his place up front, despite his recent poor showing in front of goal, so Admir Mehmedi will most likely make way for Embolo.
Romania proved to be very good at attacking set-pieces against France, while Switzerland flattered to deceive when defending dead balls, so Romanian chances from these incidents would certainly not come as a surprise.
Romania key player
Although a side not blessed with great talent, Stancu – the scorer against France – was Romania's joint top scorer in qualifying and the forward has nine goals to his name in a total of 39 caps for his country. Although his international goal tally is hardly impressive, his versatility across the forward line is a huge asset for Anghel Iordănescu’s side and his goal against France will give him confidence.
Switzerland key player
Granit Xhaka described his record-breaking contest against his brother, Taulant, in the victory over Albania as “bizarre”, but he certainly didn’t let the moment get to him – producing a magnificent performance. The new Arsenal signing completed a magnificent 102 passes in Lens and most of Switzerland’s chances in the final third come through his superb passing ability.
Likely Romania line-up: Tatarusanu; Rat, Grigore, Chiriches, Sapunaru; Pintilii, Hoban, Stanciu; Stancu, Andone, Popa.
Likely Switzerland line-up: Sommer; Lichsteiner, Lang, Djourou, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka, Dzemaili; Shaqiri, Seferovic, Embolo.