Euro 2016 qualification dream closer than ever as Albania climb to 10 points with one game in hand

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 13, 2015 10:13

Story Highlights

  • As never before, Albania has almost mathematically secured a spot in the play-offs in case of finishing third in group but also stands good chances to secure a place in the top two which means direct qualification as it currently stands two points behind group leaders Portugal with one game less

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Group I

Teams P +/- Pts
 Portugal 5 3 12
 Denmark 5 4 10
 Albania 4 5 10
 Armenia 5 -4 1
 Serbia * 5 -8 -2

* Serbia have had 3 points deducted (Source: UEFA)

TIRANA, July 15 - Albania climbed to ten points in Group I of the Euro 2016 qualifiers after Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport gave Albania a 3-0 victory in last October's abandoned match away to Serbia in a final decision ending a legal battle which reversed a previous ruling by Europe's football governing body.

With one game in hand, Albania now see themselves rank third in Group I with 10 points, level on points with Denmark which holds an advantage only thanks to a goal away to Albania in last October's 1-1 qualifier.

UEFA published the corrected ranking on Wednesday after having previously placed Albania second on better goal difference. Albania's Football Association also clarified that Albania currently ranks third because of the UEFA regulation which first considers statistics in the direct match between the concerned teams in case of equal points before applying the goal-difference rule for all group matches.

Portugal lead the group with 12 points in five games having lost only at home against Albania in their opening group match in what was described as a shock defeat for the Portuguese, but a key and sensational win for the Red and Blacks' dream of a first ever qualification in a major football tournament.

Armenia ranks fourth in Group I while Serbia are bottom with -2 points after having 3 points deducted by CAS over the abandoned match with Albania following violence fuelled by a drone with Albanian nationalist symbols.

With four games to go before the qualifiers close, Albania sees itself in a comfortable position which has also worried favorite rivals Portugal and Denmark.

As never before, Albania has almost mathematically secured a spot in the play-offs in case of finishing third in group but also stands good chances to secure a place in the top two which means direct qualification as it currently stands two points behind group leaders Portugal with one game less.

Albania's next qualifier will be away to Denmark on September 4 before hosting Portugal three days later.

Albania's coach Gianni De Biasi said the CAS decision had increased Albania's chances of qualification into Euro 2016 but Albania still faces a tough challenge.

"I am happy because justice has been done and now we are calmer," De Biasi said after last weekend's ruling which was celebrated all over Albania, Kosovo and the Diaspora. "The Sept. 4 match away to Denmark is a great challenge which we have to overcome."

Albania have achieved their highest ever FIFA world ranking following remarkable progress in their Euro 2016 qualification bid and a historic victory with France last June.

Albania climbed 15 spots to 36th in the July FIFA ranking, which is a historic high for the country's national side since 1946 when it made its international debut with a friendly against then-Yugoslavia.

The new ranking has officially earned Albania one seeding pot for the World Cup qualifying draw Russia 2018 scheduled for July 25.

Albania is set to be seeded in Pot 3 for the first time ever after having been historically seeded in Pots 4 and 5 in previous draws.

Football experts say Albania, whose players play in prestigious leagues including Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, stands a real chance to qualify for the France Euro 2016 after historically finishing bottom and second from bottom in previous Euro and World Cup qualifying stages.

The top two group teams and the best third-placed side qualify directly for the final tournament of the Euro 2016. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 13, 2015 10:13