France began the Euro 2016 championships in a less than convincing 2-1 win over Romania. While they certainly dominated possession and most of the proceedings, they were living on a knife-edge that one slip up could affect, and so it was when a controversial penalty led to a tying goal and it all seemed like France would wind up blowing its first game.
However, an unexpected hero came through in the form of Dimitri Payet gave the team a late win with a scorcher. Some of France’s bigger names came in for some criticism, like Juventus star Paul Pogba and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann.
Neither player shone, and Griezmann missed at least one good chance, before his striking partner Olivier Giroud rose to head home the opener 12 minutes after the break.
This was not the match to raise the French in the eyes of their impatient supporters, so anything less than a comfortable win against the team that is expected to come last will give more ammunition to the doubters.
However, the last time these two nations met, Albania won 1-0 in Elbasan exactly a year ago. A first-half free-kick by Ergys Kace was the difference between the two teams on paper, but there was certainly not much between the teams on the field as Albania once again made a mockery of their minnows monicker.
During the qualifying campaign, Gianni De Biasi’s team far exceeded expectations in beating both Denmark and Serbia into second spot in Euro qualifying Group I behind Portugal.
In their first game of the championships, Albania were unlucky not to walk away with a point against Switzerland. Despite going down to ten men after Lorik Cana received a second yellow card, Albania certainly had at least three good chances to level.
This is a game of very different expectations. While France are expected to win by a nice margin, Albania came trying to record their first ever point in a European Championships. This is the hardest game they will play, but if they manage it then the French crowd will be unforgiving of their national team.
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