In our Albania Euro 2016 team preview, we’ve compiled the schedule and roster for Albania as well as a prediction on how far they’ll advance in the tournament and which players to watch out for.
Albania Euro 2016 team preview
Manager: Gianni De Biasi
Captain: Lorik Cana
Saturday, June 11
Wednesday, June 15
Sunday, June 19
Albania: Euro 2016 team preview: Squad:
Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha (Lazio), Alban Hoxha (Partizani), Orges Shehi (Skenderbeu).
Defenders: Elseid Hysaj (Napoli), Lorik Cana (Nantes), Arlind Ajeti (Frosinone), Mergim Mavraj (Koeln), Naser Aliji (Basel), Ansi Agolli (Karabag), Frederik Veseli (Lugano).
Midfielders: Ermir Lenjani (Nantes), Andi Lila (Giannina), Migjen Basha (Como), Ledian Memushaj (Pescara), Burim Kukeli (Zurich), Taulant Xhaka (Basel), Ergys Kace (Paok), Amir Abrashi (Freiburg), Odise Roshi (Rijeka).
Forwards: Bekim Balaj (Rijeka), Sokol Cikalleshi (Medipol Basaksehir), Armando Sadiku (Vaduz), Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids).
The expansion of the European Championships from 16 teams to 24 means we’ll be treated to some fresh outfits at this summer’s tournament. Albania, making their maiden appearance in a major competition, are one.
That much in itself makes this group major underdogs in France. De Biasi’s side may be as spirited and determined as any of the 24 and that’ll serve them well when taking on the host nation, Switzerland and Romania. But the inventiveness required to do damage at this elite level has yet to reveal itself consistently.
What the Shqiponjat do possess is tenacity and durability. In qualifying, quite remarkably, Albania didn’t concede a single goal away from home, a solid defensive foundation that allowed them to spring a surprise against an illustrious Portugal team in September 2014. They were also infamously awarded three points after their drone-affected tussle with Serbia was abandoned.
Wins against a very capable Armenia outfit showed this is a team that’s capable of making an impression in the final third, although watching Albania can be something of a slog. De Biasi favours a functional brand of football, with the dogged Cana epitomising their altruistic approach to the game.
It means they may not be the most attractive side to watch in the group stages, although the team will take no shame in assuming the role of spoilers against the likes of Switzerland and France. That’s a blueprint they followed well in qualifying and if they can soak up pressure, then nick a goal as they did so well against the Selecao, they might just sneak into the second round.