Albania v Switzerland Match Preview

Competition: European Championship 2016
Fixture: Albania v Switzerland
Date: Saturday, June 11, 2016
Venue: Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis
Kick off time: 1 pm GMT

Switzerland take on Albania in their Euro 2016 Group A opener at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens on Saturday. Switzerland go into this game with the upper hand given that they have the stronger of the two sides. They are ranked higher and on paper have a stronger and more experienced set of players. However, over the last few international friendlies the form of both the teams has been somewhat similar.

These two sides have met a total of six times in the past and Albania is yet to win a game (D1, L5).

There is a possibility of a rare international footballing moment in this game as the Xhaka brothers, Granit and Taulant Xhaka could face each other. In fact, there are over five players who are eligible to play for either team owing to the way history of the two nations.

Switzerland’s form: W-L-L-L-W

Switzerland ended their warm-up pre-tournament preparations on a high after they beat Moldova 2-1 last weekend. Admir Mehmedi got his name on the scoresheet, while the other goal was an own goal scored by Stanislav Namasco. This win was only their second win in their last six international matches.

One of the major concerns for the management will be the defensive record of the Swiss team. They have not held a clean sheet in a while and as the saying goes, to surely win games you need to hold on to clean sheets.

Switzerland are currently ranked 15th in the FIFA Coca-Cola World rankings.

Albania’s form: L-W-L-D-W

Albania’s manager, Gianni De Biasi’s has already exceeded the expectations of many by qualifying over both Serbia and Denmark. The team is gaining some shape in what will be their first ever UEFA European Championship Finals. This also happens to be his first major tournament as a manager.

On their way to this game, they beat Qatar 3-1 in a warm-up game. However last weekend, they lost to Ukraine to the same goal score line.

The Albanians have shown that they know how to grind results as they beat both Portugal and Serbia in the qualifiers. Both these victories came away from home. They come into this game in a good run of form, with having lost just five of their last 18 matches.

Against Switzerland, they have been unable to keep a clean sheet in all their encounters. This presents as the best opportunity for them to change that.

Albania are currently ranked 42nd in the FIFA Coca-Cola World rankings.

Key Players and Team News:

Switzerland: When the team sheets are compared, it is quite evident that the Swiss national side has players including Granit Xhaka, Yann Sommer, Aleksandar Dragovic and Xherdan Shaqiri who are far more skilled and also experienced when compared to their opponents on the night.

Vladimir Petković will be looking for all his top players such as Shaqiri and Xhaka to strike form right from the first whistle. Xhaka will be in pumped after having made a dream shift to Arsenal. Most of the game play is expected to go through him in midfield. He combines with Shaqiri to form a very formidable pair going forward.

Youngster Breel Embolo will be one to look out for. He may not make the starting line-up however, coming on from the bench, he brings in pace and athleticism will be tough to suppress.

Albania: De Biasi will be hoping that Taulant Xhaka recovers from an injury he sustained. They will need him in the centre of the defence fit enough to play the full 90 minutes. However, Odise Roshi looks fit and fine in order to start ahead of Andi Lila on the right flank in midfield.

Lorik Cana will be the one to look out for as well. The captain of Albania is known to be the main anchor in midfield. He continues to impress fans the management with the way he reads the game, anticipates well and leads right from the front.

Betting Advice:

Even though statistics show us that Switzerland have won just one of their nine UEFA European matches, they seem to have the upper hand in this game. As they are yet to make it past the group stage in the last three European finals appearances, this game presents itself as a great opportunity to kick-off their tournament with a win.

This is the first appearance for Albania on this stage and they will be determined to impress. In all honesty, this seems to be a tough proposition given the pressure that will be on them.

The Swiss have enough firepower to go through win this game. But statistics tell us this game will be far closer than we can imagine. Albania have not conceded more than two goals on one single occasion during the qualifying stages. Bet365 are offering 3/4 for Switzerland to win the game.

A draw between these two, which seems unlikely is placed at 11/5 at Willliam Hill.

There is a fair chance that Shaqiri will get his name on the scoresheet given he takes most of the set pieces. His pace will also be tough to handle in addition with his ability to cut across and shoot with his powerful left foot. This live wire is 5/1 at bet365 to be the first goal scorer and is a great value bet for this match.