Albania play hosts France in toughest group stage fixture

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 15, 2016 09:58

Albania play hosts France in toughest group stage fixture

TIRANA, June 15 - Albania will play Euro 2016 hosts France this evening in their toughest group stage fixture in an effort to keep qualification hopes alive after conceding a narrow 1-0 loss with Switzerland in their debut Euro campaign.

Albania take on Group A leaders France after two positive results in the last two encounters, but the Wednesday night fixture is no longer a friendly and France seem more motivated than ever while playing on home soil.

Albania drew 1-1 with France in Rennes and triumphed 1-0 at home in recent friendlies but Les Bleus won the four previous meetings with a goal difference of +10 and are unbeaten in their last four competitive games in Marseille.

Captain Lorik Cana will miss his much anticipated fixture with France in Marseille where he played some of his best seasons after a red card in the opening campaign with Switzerland which left Albania in ten-men for almost 60 minutes.

Albania's Italian coach Gianni De Biasi says it will be a tough game for the national side considering France's quality.

"It's understandable they know us well and I don't think they will underestimate us. They are a big team and have a lot of quality. We will try to show our best values but we are aware that we cannot achieve a positive result without doing our best. For this, we have to have to remain focused and be as concrete as possible in front of goal and in our defensice actions," said De Biasi.

France coach Didier Deschamps has also described the encounter as tough.

“They (Albania) are a very well-organised team. With an Italian coach it’s quite logical they defend well but even with 10 men against Switzerland, they were still in the match and were unlucky not to level at the end,” he is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

A draw against France would be perfect for Albania to keep their qualification hopes alive but the national side could even make it to the knockout stage with a victory against Romania in their final  group stage fixture on June 19.

The new UEFA regulation allows the four best third-placed teams to advance to the round of 16 when it becomes a knockout competition.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 15, 2016 09:58