Albania’s participation at Euro 2024 is only its second appearance in a major tournament and, while it faces a tough task to progress from an extremely difficult group, a lack of expectation could prove valuable.

Albania’s only previous appearance at the Euros came in 2016 where it failed to advance to the knockout phase and this time around it comes up against defending champion Italy along with Spain and Croatia in Group B.

That is a lot of tournament experience to take on but Albania will be buoyed up by its form in qualifying as group winner, ahead of the Czech Republic and Poland, after going seven games unbeaten following its opening loss to the Poles.

Since its historic debut in 2016, Albania has missed out on qualifying for the last Euros along with two World Cups but, under new manager Sylvinho, it has turned a corner.

In 2022 it recorded just one win in 11 games. Sylvinho took over as Albania’s manager at the beginning of 2023 and last year it won five of its nine matches, losing just once.

Sylvinho brought in fellow Brazilian Doriva and Argentine Pablo Zabaleta to work alongside him and together they set about finding players to suit its style of play.

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Jasir Asani is one of those players, a left-footed right winger who plays his club football with Gwangju in South Korea and has featured in every match since Sylvinho came in, and scored three goals in the qualifiers.

Albania will hope to catch the Italians off guard when it plays them in its opening game in Germany and it has plenty of players in its squad who will be very familiar with its opponents.

Kristjan Asllani, Nedim Bajrami, Berat Djimsiti, Elseid Hysaj, Ylber Ramadani, Etrit Berisha and Ardian Ismajli all play their club football in Serie A, and Sylvinho previously worked under Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan.

Albania has lost all four previous meetings with Italy and against Spain it has suffered defeat in each of its eight matches, while this will be its first game against Croatia.

Nobody will expect it to come through its group in Germany and the lack of pressure could make it a dangerous prospect for anyone who takes it for granted.


Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha (Empoli), Thomas Strakosha (Brentford), Elhan Kastrati (Cittadella), Simon Simoni (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Defenders:  Berat Djimsiti (Atalanta), Elseid Hysaj (Lazio), Iván Balliu (Rayo Vallecano), Ardian Ismajli (Empoli), Arlind Ajeti (CFR Cluj), Naser Aliji (Voluntari), Mario Mitaj (Lokomotiv Moscow), Enea Mihaj (Famalicão), Marash Kumbulla (Sassuolo)

Midfielders: Amir Abrashi (Grasshoppers), Kristjan Asllani (Inter Milan), Nedim Bajrami (Sassuolo), Medon Berisha (Lecce), Klaus Gjasula (Darmstadt 98), Qazim Laçi (Sparta Prague), Ernest Muçi (Beşiktaş), Ylber Ramadani (Lecce)

Forwards: Jasir Asani (Gwangju FC), Armando Broja (Fulham), Mirlind Daku (Rubin Kazan), Arbër Hoxha (Dinamo Zagreb), Rey Manaj (Sivasspor), Taulant Seferi (Baniyas)


Albania vs Italy – June 16, Sunday – 12:30 AM

Albania vs Croatia – June 19, Wednesday – 6:30 PM

Albania vs Spain – June 25, Tuesday – 12:30 AM


All of Albania’s matches at Euro 2024 will be telecasted on the Sony Sports Network. The matches will also be live-streamed on the SonyLIV app.

(With inputs from Reuters)