France opened the tournament on Friday with a narrow 2-1 win over Romania and so will look to strengthen their status as favourites and continue their winning ways as they face Albania on Wednesday. Albania, on the other hand, suffered a 1-0 loss to Switzerland in their major tournament debut.
France could secure a place in the last 16 with a game spare, if they win the game and the corresponding Group A fixture between Romania and Switzerland also falls in their favour. A loss, meanwhile, for Albania could end their Euro 2016 campaign.
Head to Head
The two teams have faced each other six times with France coming out triumphant on four occasions. However, the most recent confrontations saw Albania earn a 1-1 draw and a 1-0 win against Les Bleus. Yet, Albania have never beaten Les Bleus in France but instead have conceded nine goals in three games, scoring only once. France are unbeaten in their last four competitive games in Marseille.
While France weren’t altogether convincing against Romania, with less pressure on the host nation and having had a taste for competitive football once again, it is likely Les Bleus will be more convincing against this Albanian team. It is vital for France to take their chances well, unlike in their opening game, in order to secure their place in the knock out stages with ease and to minimise frustration.
Albania on the other hand must work as a cohesive unit defensively to keep the French’s star filled attack at bay. While Albania’s goalkeeper Etrit Berisha was at fault for Switzerland’s goal, he grew into the game as it wore on and will prove crucial.
Albania will be without their captain Lorik Cana due to a suspension after he picked up a red card against Switzerland. However, he is the only player missing out, as neither team have any players out injured, or doubtful for the game.
Cana will be a loss for Albania as the most experienced defender at a top level in the team, having played for Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Sunderland and Lazio. Yet, some fans believe that Cana’s aggression is as much a liability as a strength, resulting in some having lost respect for the team’s leader.
Elseid Hysaj took the armband from Cana when he was sent off and will likely inherit it again against France.
For the French, rumours suggest that both Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann may be dropped by manager Didier Deschamps after their performances against Romania. With youngsters Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial also pushing for a place after they impressed off the bench and Deschamps still looking to explore all the options within his team, it is possible the two superstars will be dropped.
While defensive duo Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami didn’t look convincing against Romania, the partnership is likely to remain unchanged as it looks like the strongest available. N’Golo Kante is also extremely likely to keep his placing in the team after an amazing performance last time out.