Italy vs Albania. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

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Will Albania manage to snatch points from the favourites to hinder their chances of making the playoffs?

Italy will face Albania in the UEFA EURO 2024 first-round match at the Signal Iduna Park Stadium in Dortmund. The fixture will take place on Sunday, June 16, beginning at 00:30 IST.

Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.

Italy News & Current Form: 

Italy have experienced fluctuating performances on the European stage. For instance, they won silver medals at the 2012 European Championship but were eliminated in the quarter-finals in 2016. However, the team can boast a phenomenal victory at the last EURO in 2020. It was a challenging journey, with Squadra Azzurra first defeating Spain in a penalty shootout (4:2) in the semi-finals. In the decisive fixture, they once again triumphed in a penalty shootout, edging out England (3:2) to secure the trophy. Notably, the championship in Germany will be the 11th for the Blues, as the team has consistently participated in the European Championships since 1996.

The period following the 2020 triumph has been contradictory: Italy won bronze in the 2021 UEFA Nations League and set a world record for the longest unbeaten run (37 matches). However, they then faced the tragedy of missing out on a second consecutive FIFA World Cup, failing to qualify for Qatar after also missing out in 2018. Despite this, Roberto Mancini retained his job, leading the team to the Final Four of the 2023 Nations League, where they again finished third. But in August, Mancini unexpectedly fell out with the president of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gravina, and resigned. The team was then taken over by Luciano Spalletti, who also left Scudetto winner SSC Napoli on a sour note due to disagreements with club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Currently, the Italian collective has a very competitive squad with strong players in every position and healthy competition within the team. Players such as Jorginho, Nicolo Barella, Giacomo Raspadori, Davide Frattesi, Federico Dimarco, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and many others are ready to defend their title and aim for a second consecutive EURO victory. Under Spalletti’s leadership, the team is balanced, tactically flexible, and prepared for various scenarios on the pitch.

In the qualification tournament, the Blues struggled but ultimately secured the second spot in their group, allowing them to qualify for the final tournament. Competing in Group C, Italy finished behind England, who collected six more points. They accumulated the same number of points as Ukraine (14) but ranked higher due to better head-to-head results, having won one match and drawn the other. Over eight matches, they scored 16 goals and conceded 9. FC Inter Milan midfielders Frattesi and Barella were the top scorers and top providers of assists in the qualifiers, with Davide netting four goals and Nicolo giving a hand in four goals. Domenico Berardi from US Sassuolo rounded out the top three with two goals and one assist.

Starting in March, Italy played several friendly matches in preparation for the championship, securing three victories. They first won a tough match against Venezuela (2:1), where Italy opened the scoring but saw their lead quickly equalized. Fortunately, they managed to score a late winner in the second half, with Mateo Retegui finishing off a Jorginho pass. They then defeated Ecuador (2:0), with Italy looking sharper in attack and scoring at the beginning and end of the match through goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Barella.

Davide Frattesi was the top scorer of the Italian team at the EURO qualifiers

In early June, Squadra Azzurra drew with Turkey (0:0), with both teams failing to score. Despite having the upper hand in possession and creating chances, Italy could not convert any opportunities. Their expected goals (xG) were 0.67, similar to their opponents, even though the teams’ status differed significantly. Last week, Italy faced Bosnia and Herzegovina, winning 1:0 thanks to a single goal. This backdrop makes their position as the outright favourite against Albania, who won their qualification group for Euro 2024, somewhat surprising.

Euro 2024 will see the absence of Italy’s top goal scorer Ciro Immobile (17 goals) and midfielder Manuel Locatelli, who was not included in the squad by head coach Spalletti, who took charge during the qualification campaign. Due to injuries, Francesco Acerbi and Giorgio Scalvini will also miss out, with the Inter defender suffering a groin injury and the Atalanta BC defender tearing his cruciate ligament. In their place, Federico Gatti from Juventus FC has been called up to the squad.

Albania News & Current Form:  

The Albanian national team cannot boast of outstanding achievements in the European arena, let alone at the world level. Their first and only major tournament appearance was at Euro 2016. Under coach Gianni De Biasi, they lost to Switzerland (0:1) and France (0:2), and despite a victory over Romania (1:0), they failed to advance to the knockout stage due to goal difference. Subsequently, the Red and Blacks missed out on the 2018 World Cup, Euro 2020, and the 2022 Mundial, failing to qualify under De Biasi and his successors Edoardo Reja and Christian Panucci.

Before the start of the Euro 2024 qualification campaign, the Albanian Football Federation made an unexpected choice by appointing former Arsenal FC and FC Barcelona defender Sylvinho as head coach. His assistant, Pablo Zabaleta, crossed paths with the Brazilian at Manchester City, where a new mentor ended his career. Interestingly, Zabaleta had no prior experience as either a head coach or an assistant.

Sylvinho now coaching the Albanian team previously played at Arsenal and Barcelona

The team advanced to the final stage of Euro 2024 by finishing first in their qualifying group E, which also included the Czech Republic, Poland, Moldova, and the Faroe Islands. The young coaching staff started with a defeat to the Polish collective (0:1), but the gamble paid off: four wins and three draws in the remaining matches secured the Eagles’ top spot in the group. The Red and Blacks amassed the same number of points as the Czechs (15) but ranked higher based on head-to-head results (1:1, 3:0). The Brazilian coach surprised everyone with his tactical innovations, which brought the team’s long-awaited success.

In those games, the defenders built a solid backline – Albania conceded only four goals, only France (3) and Portugal (2) had fewer in the qualifiers. Offensively, the Balkan team was also strong, scoring 12 goals. The top performers in terms of points were Jasir Asani (3 goals, 2 assists) and Nedim Bajrami (3 goals, 1 assist).

In preparation for the EURO, starting in March, the Reds played four friendly matches, all of which ended in defeat. They first suffered a heavy home loss to Chile (0:3), where the opponent capitalized on nearly all their chances despite an evenly matched game. The hosts’ surprisingly poor defensive performance cost them dearly. In the second match, they lost to Sweden, who had several scoring opportunities and converted one successfully.

Albania are clear underdogs in the meeting with Italy, and it’s not just because of their opponents’ status as reigning European champions. The main argument against the Sylvinho-led team is their inconsistency, even in friendlies against weaker opponents.

They finally managed to get a good warm-up right before the championship, defeating Liechtenstein (3:0) and Azerbaijan (3:1). The first match went predictably: Albania dominated and, despite the very weak opponent, fielded their main squad. The stats were all in the hosts’ favour, with Liechtenstein managing only one shot on goal. The second match was more interesting, showcasing the team’s finishing ability. The Eagles won with a score of 3:1, although they had chances to secure a more lopsided victory. The only blemish was a goal conceded in the 90th minute. 

From the preliminary squad, only Simon Simoni was excluded, not due to health issues but because the Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper simply didn’t make the final cut. Additionally, in May of this year, one of the national team’s top scorers, Sokol Cikalleshi, who netted 13 goals for the national side, retired from international football.

Italy form guide: W-D-W-W-D-W

Albania form guide: D-D-L-L-W-W

Italy vs Albania Head-To-Head Record:

  • November 18, 2014: Italy 1 – 0 Albania (International Friendly);
  • March 24, 2017: Italy 2 – 0 Albania (FIFA World Cup);
  • October 9, 2017: Albania 0 – 1 Italy (FIFA World Cup);
  • November 16, 2022: Albania 1 – 3 Italy (International Friendly).

Italy vs Albania Predicted XI:

Italy’s possible starting lineup (3-4-2-1): Donnarumma; Darmian, Buongiorno, Bastoni; Di Lorenzo, Cristante, Jorginho, Dimarco; Frattesi, Chiesa; Scamacca.

Albania’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): E. Berisha; Hysaj, Ismajli, Djimsiti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramadani; Asani, Bajrami, Seferi; Broja.

Statistical preview of the match Italy vs Albania:

  • The Italian national team holds 9th place in the FIFA ranking of national squads, while the Albanian collective is ranked 66th.
  • Italy’s First XI average age is 27.8 years, and Albania’s First XI average age is 27.1 years.
  • Felix Zwayer has been appointed as the centre referee. The match official has already served 29 games this season, showing an average of 4.6 yellow cards and also whistles 23 fouls per game. 
  • The Italian national team has not lost six matches in a row, in 80% of them less than 2.5 goals have been scored.
  • Albania have lost two of its last five matches; in the last 10 matches, the total number of corners awarded per game has been less than 10.5.
  • Despite winning the previous European Championship, the Italians have missed the World Cup twice in a row.
  • Along with their lack of World Cup qualification, this is the second time the Albanians have participated in the European Championship. Their debut in 2016 turned out to be a decent one, even ending with a historic first win in the final part of the Euros.
  • The teams played four matches between them, in which the Italians won four victories.

What has been said before the match:

Number 9 of the Italian squad, Gianluca Scamacca, expressed his optimism and determination for the upcoming Euros, emphasizing the growth and potential of his young team:

“We are a young team and a new cycle has begun. It took some time to extract our strength. We are ready for it to come out at the Euros. I am doing well, I hope to help the squad and go as far as possible. I’d like to follow in the footsteps of the European Champions in 2021 and the World Cup winning group of 2006: they left a mark on history, and I’d like to do that too.”

“It will be a difficult game with Albania, at this point in the competition every opponent is hard to face and every side deserves to be here. We need to focus on ourselves and remain as calm as possible.”

“I hope to bring positivity and everything I have learnt, and score. If I am here it’s thanks to Gasperini, who this year has helped me and managed to strike the right chord for things to click. I owe him a lot: I wasn’t in the USA with the National team in March, and I deserved not to be called up. By calling me ‘lazy’, Spalletti motivated me. I will try to help the team: what counts is winning, scoring or getting assists less so.”

Sylvinho, reflecting on his relentless approach to coaching, emphasized his unwavering focus and commitment to preparation:

“I never stay calm. The players know it, the federation knows it, the president knows it. Christmas party, end of year, normally you restart work in January, but the whole time all I’m thinking is how we can go through. How can we play against Italy? How can we play against Croatia? What will we do against the Spanish? I said to my assistant, Doriva: ‘I have to be clever, I can’t make a mistake, because if I make a bad choice I’m going to be in trouble.” 

“You have to know the people,” he says. “I can’t just turn up 10 days before a game. The kind of atmosphere you see here, I’m absolutely sure it transmits to the pitch.”

“My players technically are great, they have something different and can show that on the pitch. They’re not made to go out there and just be: ‘4-4-2, we don’t have the ball, we don’t need to do anything special.’ They love the tactical side, they understand hard work, but they love having space to create and you have to let them do it.”

Italy vs Albania Prediction:

The Italian national team is the clear favourite for the upcoming match. Although the Gli Azzurri have shown no particular sparkle in recent friendlies, they have a considerable advantage in terms of experience and skill. There are performers in the squad who can individually decide the outcome of the match. However, the team needs to improve their finishing. It is difficult to highlight a leader among the attacking players. However, with a top-notch defence, the Italians are well on track to secure the desired results, as they did at the last Euros. All the stars in Albania’s squad play in the defensive area. The Balkans’ second-fiddle defensive-minded approach proved to be the key to their qualification. Still, the attack has frequently struggled. As an example, the Albanians have scored only one goal in their final two Euro qualifying matches (against modest Moldova and the Faroe Islands). Silvinho’s charges will definitely not take any risks – it is dangerous to open up in a match against such a team as Italy: you can be slapped with a goal. Albanians are expected to be defending for most of the match, while their counterattacks are supposed to be crushed by the Gli Azzurri CDMs, in particular Barella.

The Italian national team’s play style does not suggest a flashy goal-packed spectacle. The same is true for the Eagles. Teams tend to be pragmatic and achieve results by any means. The first round is crucial for Spalletti’s side – a point loss against an outsider in such a competitive group could put their playoff hopes in doubt. Yet even in the case of a quick goal scored, the game scenario will not change: Albania will play passively and Italy will try to dictate their agenda.

However, with a lacklustre performance at the opponents’ end along with the challenge of missing a сlinical finisher Italy will likely find it difficult to open the scoreline against a bus-parking Balkanians. It is unlikely that Silvinho’s team will change their tactics. Italy will spend most of their time creating chances, while Albania will focus on defence. Hence the assumption that we will see a lot of corners, especially from Gianluca Scamacca and co. According to the last four games of the Italians, they have had at least 8 corners in three of them. The team puts a lot of emphasis on set pieces that oftentimes can help score a much-needed goal. In all 4 face-to-face duels, the opponents have generated at least 8 corners, while the most recent one has seen a total of 12.

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say:  The match total will be less than 3.5 and the total of corners will be more than 8 – Yes.

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