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Euro 2016 Albania Preview

A look at Albania's national football team going into the Euro 2016 with a touch of Football Manager 2016.

By on Jun 11, 2016   3790 views   0 comments
EURO 2016 - Euro 2016 Albania Preview
Overview

Albania have reached their first ever major tournament in some style, they managed to progress from the toughest qualifying group, ahead of Denmark and Serbia to book their place in France. With a FIFA Ranking of 42, they enter the tournament as the lowest ranked side but if their recent progression is anything to go by, they aren’t here to just simply make up the numbers.
Albania will play to their strengths which will see them sitting back soaking up any pressure they come under before catching their opponents’ off-guard with their display of vibrant wingers and versatile midfielders.

EURO History

This will be The Eagles’ first time at the European Championships but they’re a better side when the pressure is off – their first game in Qualification saw them shock Portugal to a 1-0 victory on Portuguese soil. If you want a reason why the expansion to the EURO’s is a fantastic addition, then Albania is your answer.


Key Players

Albania’s strengths certainly lie with their defence where 3 of their 4 starters, as well as their goalkeeper, play in both Serie A and the Bundesliga.

Lorik Cana – Defender



The flagship of Albanian Football. The ex-Sunderland man leads from the back as captain, as the most capped and arguably the greatest Albanian player of all-time. Described by his manager as a legend, Cana’s experience throughout Europe’s top leagues will be vital for this Albanian side, he’s likely to be anchored at the heart of their defence but can be utilised into a more midfield role if necessary.

Taulant Xhaka – Midfielder



The engine that will keep the side working, Taulant Xhaka’s magnificent drive and work ethic will be pivotal for his nation if they are going to stride forward. He’ll be up against his younger brother, Granit Xhaka, in the first game against Switzerland but this versatile fan favourite can be adapted to suit both offensive and defensive requisites.

Elseid Hysaj – Defender



Making his breakthrough at the fruitful base of Empoli, Elseid Hysaj has developed impressively throughout his tenure. His efficient performances caught the eye of Napoli last year and he has since been able to cement his place in the Neapolitan first team, making him one of Serie A’s most highly regarded defenders.


Ones to Watch

Because this is Albania’s first major tournament, many of their players may be unfamiliar to the masses and scouts across Europe will be eagerly awaiting their presence as they look to capitalise on a bargain or two.

Odise Roshi – Midfielder



Their defence may be Albania’s talisman, but their next formidable characteristic comes on the counter attack. Odise Roshi’s lightning quick breaks down the right wing have given him the nickname ‘Rocket Roshi’ as he’ll look to burst Albania’s offensive display into action. He’s a perfect player to utilise when going forward to help the defence recuperate.

Armando Sadiku – Forward



Has struggled with injuries over the last couple of years but the striker is in brilliant form coming into the tournament which could see him slot into the number 10 role. Has spent the season on loan at Vaduz in the Swiss League to help keep them safe. He succeeded, but at the expense of his parent club, FC Zürich who were incidentally relegated for the first time since 1988.

Manager

Gianni de Biasi



The Italian has become a legend back in Albania. He’s helped to install a certain Italian mentality to the team which fits perfectly with the current blend of players. The ex-Torino and Udinese man has helped mould Albania into a very stubborn and passionate side that will not go down without a fight in France.


Prediction

The pressure is off for their maiden major tournament and they’re not a team you’d want to play against, just ask Cristiano Ronaldo and co. at Portugal. They may not be the prettiest side to watch but their grit and determination can help them grind out a result against better opposition. It’s the worst kind of group for Albania, they’re up against the hosts as well as Switzerland and Romania who play similar football which means they may struggle in front of goal but they are capable of clinching 3rd spot and potentially moving onto the last 16.

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