Preview: Prediction, Team News, Lineups for Italy vs. Albania Match

Italy will begin their defence of their European championship by facing Albania in a Group B match on Saturday evening. This will mark the start of their Euro 2024 campaign.

The ultimate goal for the Azzurri is to secure consecutive victories at the Euros, while their neighbouring team is merely seeking to progress from the group stage in only their second appearance at a major tournament.

Preview of the Match

Before the match on June 4, 2024, the players of Italy gathered for a team group photo

In addition, they will strive to be only the second squad to achieve back-to-back victories in the Euros, following the example of the Spanish team in 2008 and 2012. However, not many experts consider Luciano Spalletti‘s team to be one of the top contenders for the title.

The Italian national football team, known as the Azzurri, has reached Germany without any losses in their past six matches. However, the fear of not being able to qualify for the previous World Cup, and then barely making it through the qualifiers after their former manager Roberto Mancini left, continues to linger in the background.

After taking over as coach following Mancini’s Euro 2020 victory, Spalletti has managed to lead the team to six victories and three draws. This has resulted in Italy being ranked ninth in the FIFA world rankings. However, their journey in Group B will not be easy as they will face tough competition from Spain, Croatia, and Albania. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the team is dealing with injuries.

In the absence of key defenders, La Nazionale has managed to keep a clean sheet for 317 minutes, which includes a goalless tie against Turkey and a 1-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in two friendly matches before the tournament. Their strong defensive record will now be put to the test at the European Championships.

In their last 12 matches in the competition, Italy has only allowed a very small number of six goals. Their most recent match was in the 2021 triumph at Wembley, where they surprised the hosts England and won the final through a penalty shootout.

In order to achieve their goal of achieving the same success, it is imperative for the Azzurri to secure a victory on Saturday. This match serves as preparation for two challenging group matches and presents an opportunity for them to extend their unbeaten record against their opponents to five consecutive wins.

Despite a nervy performance, Italy managed to secure their qualification by narrowly defeating Ukraine. On the other hand, Albania impressively dominated their group, bouncing back from an initial loss against Poland to remain unbeaten in their next seven matches. This strong run allowed them to top the group ahead of both Poland and the second-placed Czech Republic.

The Euro 2024 draw was not favourable for them, however, their first match will see them against some familiar opponents – a total of nine players from the Albanian team are currently playing for clubs in Serie A.

Together with fellow countrymen Edy Reja and Christian Panucci, Gianni De Biasi, an Italian coach, has previously served as the manager of Albania. During his tenure, he successfully led his adopted nation to Euro 2016, where they achieved their only win in a major tournament so far, defeating Romania in their last group stage match.

During that particular event, the Eagles were knocked out, and their current coach Sylvinho – the first Brazilian manager to lead a team at the Euros since Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2008 – has a daunting task ahead to prevent an untimely elimination in Germany.

Undoubtedly, the recent victories against Liechtenstein and Azerbaijan – particularly the 3-1 win in Tirana last week – will not be enough to convince those who are sceptical that Albania can advance in this year’s ‘Group of Death’.

Despite their slim chances in Group B, they have grown accustomed to winning and could potentially cause a few upsets in their upcoming matches.

Latest Team Updates

Following Luciano Spalletti’s selection of his initial 30-man team, both Francesco Acerbi (suffering from groin injury) and Giorgio Scalvini (with an ACL injury) were unable to participate, and they are joined by Nicolo ZanioloDomenico BerardiDestiny Udogie, and suspended midfielder Sandro Tonali on the sidelines.

On a more optimistic note, Davide Frattesi, Nicolo Fagioli, and Nicolo Barella have all been included in the squad despite being out of action for seven months due to a betting suspension. Furthermore, Barella, who had the highest number of assists and chances created among all Italian players during the qualifying round, is likely to recover from his minor muscular issues.

In recent months, Spalletti has been trying out different formations and personnel, but it appears that team captain Gianluigi Donnarumma will definitely be the starting goalkeeper. The competition for the striker position seems to be between Gianluca Scamacca and Genoa’s Mateo Retegui.

In the meantime, Albania’s centre-back will be led by Berat Djimsiti, who plays for Atalanta BC. He played a significant role in his team’s victory in the Europa League last month.

Kristjan Asllani, a talented deep-lying playmaker, recently achieved victory in the Scudetto with Inter Milan. Likewise, Nedim Bajrami and Marash Kumbulla, who were both members of the Sassuolo team that was relegated to Serie B, also made notable contributions.

Following a difficult period with his club, Armando Broja is ready to lead the Albanian offence, as the 33-year-old forward Sokol Cikalleshi – who played in all eight qualifying games – has declared his retirement from international football.

Probable lineup for Italy:
Donnarumma; Darmian, Buongiorno, Bastoni; Di Lorenzo, Cristante, Jorginho, Dimarco; Frattesi, Chiesa; Scamacca.

Possible starting lineup for Albania:

E. Berisha; Hysaj, Ismajli, Djimsiti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramadani; Asani, Bajrami, Seferi; Broja

Our verdict: Italy secures a 1-0 victory against Albania.

With the other teams’ formidable power in a heavily stacked Group B, this match will carry a sense of great importance, creating a tense and careful atmosphere.

The outcome of the game may be determined by a single goal, as Italy’s wealth of experience could lead them to a narrow victory.

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