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Albania national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 24, 2024 at 8pm UK
Merkur Spiel-Arena
Spain national football team

Albania
0 - 1
Spain


Bajrami (66'), Berisha (89')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Torres (13')
Vivian (90')

Preview: Albania vs. Spain - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's European Championship clash between Albania and Spain, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

HALF-TIME UPDATE: ALBANIA 0-1 SPAIN

Ferran Torres celebrates after scoring Spain's first goal on June 24, 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

Unsurprisingly, Spain boss Luis de la Fuente opted to make wholesale changes, with top spot already assured in Group B.

Any concern about whether those changes would have a negative effect were ultimately quashed when Dani Olmo slipped in Ferran Torres to send a low strike in off the far post.

Albania struggled to lay a glove on their opponents until Kristjan Asllani threatened to pull his side level on the stroke of half time, with his fizzing effort forcing a strong save from Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya.

That moment of promise will offer manager Sylvinho some much-needed encouragement ahead of his second-half team talk.

Albania know they need to win to have any chance of making their first-ever appearance in the knockout rounds of a major tournament, but they could be easily picked off if they start to take too many risks against a Spain side that appear comfortable and can move through the gears when required.

HALF-TIME PREDICTION: ALBANIA 0-3 SPAIN


A Spain outfit already confirmed as Euro 2024 Group B winners tackle an Albania side still in with a shot of last-16 qualification at the Merkur Spiel-Arena on Monday night.

La Roja bested reigning champions Italy 1-0 to ensure their rightful place in the knockout rounds, while Sylvinho's side currently sit third courtesy of a dramatic fightback in a 2-2 draw with Croatia.


Match preview

Albania midfielder Klaus Gjasula cuts a relieved figure after scoring against Croatia at Euro 2024 on June 19, 2024.© Reuters

From the villain at one end to the hero at the other, Albania midfielder Klaus Gjasula had ostensibly condemned his nation to the most gut-wrenching of defeats against Croatia, netting a highly unfortunate own goal after earlier strikes from Qazim Laci and Andrej Kramaric.

Gjasula's deflection into his own net came just four minutes after his introduction off the bench, but there would be a 95th-minute twist to the take at the Volksparkstadion, where the 34-year-old rectified his earlier misdemeanour with the most remarkable of last-gasp equalisers.

Had Gjasula not made up for his indiscretion in the dying embers, Albania would be packing their bags and preparing to depart their hotel early, but Sylvinho's third-placed side remain in with a chance of a first-ever knockout appearance at a major tournament.

On the other hand, unwanted history could be made for the Albanians, who are at risk of becoming the first men's team to score in their opening three games of the Euros and not win any of them.

Currently residing in the bronze medal position - above Croatia on goal difference - Albania will finish second if they can stun the Spaniards and Croatia beat Italy by no more than two goals at the very least, and qualifying for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides is not beyond the realm of possibility either.

Of course, such scenarios firstly hinge on the Red and Blacks doing what neither Croatia nor Italy have been able to do at the current tournament so far - take a point off or even score against Spain - but Luis de la Fuente's side could be forgiven for letting their guard down slightly here.

Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente on March 26, 2024© Reuters

Five days on from their resounding 3-0 success over Croatia - laying down quite the early marker in the process - own goals were also the order of the day in Spain's colossal clash with Italy, an encounter between the two sides to have won three of the past four editions of the European Championships.

However, La Roja had the holders' number all evening on June 20 and deservedly came up trumps thanks to Riccardo Calafiori turning the ball into his own net with 55 minutes played, a contribution which guaranteed Spain's progression to a further round as group winners.

With six points accrued, four goals scored and zero conceded, Spain have more than underlined their status as a serious contender for continental glory - even if they did fly slightly under the radar before the tournament began - having made a mockery of the so-called group of death thus far.

Furthermore, by topping Group B, De la Fuente's side will only have to face one of the best third-placed sides from Groups A, D, E or F in their last-16 battle, although that contest could precede a mouthwatering quarter-final with hosts Germany on July 5.

For now, though, extending their applaudable winning sequence to five matches across all competitions and completing Group B with a 100% success rate is the goal for La Roja, who coincidentally have a 100% success rate against Albania, winning all eight of their previous men's internationals.

A 9-0 obliteration in a Euro 1992 qualifier is still the Albanians' heaviest defeat in the history of their men's team, and on the one previous occasion that Spain won each of their opening three Euros matches, they ended up going all the way in 2008.

Albania European Championship form:


Albania form (all competitions):


Spain European Championship form:


Spain form (all competitions):


Team News

Spain's Rodri is given a yellow card by referee Slavko Vincic in June 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

While Albania originally no fewer than five players walking a suspension tightrope - Armando Broja, Gjasula, Elseid Hysaj, Arber Hoxha and Mirlind Daku would miss any potential last-16 tie if they are booked - the latter has been slapped with a two-game ban for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

During the end of the draw with Croatia, Daku took a megaphone and blurted out offensive chants towards North Macedonia and Serbia - who threatened to quit the competition after equally distasteful songs by fans - and the 26-year-old will watch this one from the naughty step.

There are no injury or fitness concerns to report from the Red and Blacks' camp, though - music to the ears of their supporters - and Gjasula's crucial contribution against Croatia may have given Sylvinho some food for thought in midfield.

However, the former Arsenal, Manchester City and Barcelona defender will likely keep faith with all 11 starters from the showdown with the 2018 World Cup runners-up, meaning another start up top for Rey Manaj over Chelsea's Broja, who endured a troubled loan spell at Fulham last season too.

On the other hand, Spain boss De la Fuente has confirmed that changes are in the offing for Monday's game with top spot assured, one of which will be enforced, as midfield enforcer Rodri must serve a suspension on account of picking up two yellow cards.

Two players who may have been banking on starts at either end of the field - centre-back Nacho and winger Ayoze Perez - are also out due to muscle and hamstring problems respectively, and the Roja boss certainly has no need to take any unnecessary risks in Dusseldorf.

Arsenal and Barcelona-linked Martin Zubimendi is surely first in line to replace Rodri, while the likes of Mikel Oyarzabal, Mikel Merino, Ferran Torres, Alejandro Grimaldo 38-year-old Jesus Navas and potentially even David Raya could be in line for promotion to the XI.


Albania possible starting lineup:
Strakosha; Hysaj, Ajeti, Djimsiti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramadani; Asani, Laci, Bajrami; Manaj

Spain possible starting lineup:
Raya; Navas, Vivian, Laporte, Grimaldo; Merino, Zubimendi, Baena; Torres, Joselu, Oyarzabal


SM words green background

We say: Albania 0-2 Spain

Such is the depth in the Spain squad that De la Fuente could make changes in the double figures and still see his side run out comfortable winners in Dusseldorf, even against an Albania side with plenty more to fight for.

Sylvinho's side have put in performances to be proud of against Italy and Croatia, but even a second-string Roja team - packed with players with points to prove, it should be noted - ought to be too strong, as Albania prepare to bow out at the first hurdle and concede multiple goals to Spain for the 10th match running.


For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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Game History

How you voted: Albania vs Spain

Albania
15.4%
Draw
12.2%
Spain
72.5%
657
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Spain's Mikel Merino celebrates scoring their second goal on July 5, 2024
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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121


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