France will play Albania in their second group stage fixture inside Marseille’s Stade Velodrome on Wednesday night as they look to capitalise on their impressive display against Romania.
Goals from Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet were enough to secure victory for the French and the home nation will be looking to secure another three points against an Albanian side that struggled to get going against an underperforming Swiss side last week.
However; given that this is their first European Championship finals, Albania didn’t fair too badly, but they should have taken advantage against a lacklustre performance from Switzerland and were ultimately made to pay for their missed chances.
When the two sides met last year, Les Bleus lost this fixture 1-0 in what was probably the lowest point in Didier Deschamps’ managing career. But now, his team will go into this game looking to win their eleventh match in 12 games, having scored 15 goals in their past five outings.
Should Albania want to progress any further in this competition, you would think that Gianni De Biasi’s men would need to take a point against France, following Romania’s spirited performance in the opening game.
This could lead to a really interesting game, as they would need to come out fighting and take an attack-minded approach. If this were to be the tactics that they choose, striker Armando Sadiku would need to find the form that he showed in the pre-tournament friendlies where he picked up three goals in three consecutive games.
However, this would undoubtedly be a risky move with the pace of the French side and the home nation would surely be able to capitalise easily upon this with the pace of Antoine Griezmann, Payet and Blaise Matuidi combining with the passing ability of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
Albania will have to be careful because they will be without captain Lorik Cana, who will be missing through suspension after receiving two yellow cards in the first-half of their opening game on Saturday.
De Biasi’s side will be severely weakened without the veteran defender, who has played 92 games for his national side.
Either Arlind Ajeti or Frederic Veseli are set to replace Cana in central defence.
Meanwhile France will go into this game in great form and with no new injury worries.
Many expected Les Bleus to miss Karim Benzema up front but the combination of Payet, Griezmann and Giroud in a front three has worked extremely well for them so far – it would be hard to see anything but a French victory in this fixture.
FIFA World Ranking: France – 17th; Albania – 42nd
Best European Championship Finish: France – Winners (1984, 2000); Albania– First-ever finals
Previous Meeting: Albania 1-0 France (June 13, 2015 – International friendly)
Form: France – LWWWWW; Albania – WDLLWL
Key Men: France– Dimitri Payet; Albania – Taulant Xhaka
Shoot Says: France 3-0 Albania