France will look to book their spot in the knockouts by going for a second consecutive win in their Euro 2016 campaign. This Group A encounter will be played at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Wednesday, June 15.
The hosts kicked off their Euro campaign with a 2-1 win over Romania. The match was tighter than expected, as the score line suggests. Romania was quick off the blocks and could have taken the lead but Hugo Lloris in the French goal thwarted the attack. France were quick to regroup and slowly grew into the game.
The teams went into the break goalless but Romania were the first to react even in the second game. It took an Olivier Giroud header from a Dimitri Payet cross to put France ahead. But the joy was short-lived as an unnecessary penalty by Patrice Evra gave a chance for Romania to draw level. Just when it looked like the French could end up with just one point, Payet showcased his brilliance with a great goal to win the game for France.
A win now, against Albania would put France in prime position in Group A. There never was any doubt on their ability to reach the knockouts but the hosts would want to top the group to avoid big names in the second round.
Albania wouldn’t be easy to master, though. The tiny nation was nervous in their opening match against Switzerland, which was their first ever Euros match. The Swiss went ahead after five minutes and the job got complex for the Albanians when their captain Lorik Cana was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Credit to Albania though for stretching the game till last minute and making a meal of it with just ten men. But looking back, they would like to think of it as a missed chance. Another loss to France will make it that much difficult for them to stay longer in the tournament.
The loss to Switzerland was the third for Albania in their last seven encounters, which has also seen them win three matches. They managed to beat France at home and earn a creditable draw away in the last couple of years which should hold them in good stead ahead of this crucial encounter. But failure to score in four of their past ten matches puts question mark on their attack.
France won nine of their last ten encounters and have scored an average of 2.5 goals per match in this period. Also, they failed to score in only one match – the one they lost to England – which indicates their attacking intent.
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Payet had an exception season with West Ham United but none gave him the credit that’s due. But the playmaker proved his credentials with a goal and an assist to turn the tables on Romania. And the focus will be back on Payet to put it past Albania.
Lorik Cana is suspended for Albania following his sent off against Switzerland. The team will want to repeat their heroics from the first match and the spotlight will be on Taulant Xhaka to prove that his blip against Switzerland was minor and put his team back into contention.
France midfield was exceptional against Romania with Payet leading the attack. With Antoine Griezmann yet to showcase his full range, there is so much to come from France. Their defence is a worry but the Albanian attack doesn’t look to have enough quality to put them under pressure. Back this French team to come up with a strong performance and take revenge of their earlier loss to Albania.
All’s not lost yet for Albania who can even join France at the top of the standings with a win against France. They have done it in the past but this time they will have to do it without their influential captain Cana. If they can channelize the disappointment into performance, which they are capable of, France could be in for a difficult shift.
France are scoring goals at more than 2.5 per match in their last ten games. Though they flopped against Albania within the last year, the big stage seems to have spurred the French. There definitely are goals in this contest and France could end up with a win.
Over 2.5 goals in the game at odds of 1.8 with Betfred.