Albania will like to end their Euros qualifying campaign on a high when they will host world champions, France at the Arena Kombëtare on Sunday
It is a dead rubber in a Group H clash between Albania and France in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers Matchday 10. France and Turkey have already qualified for the European Champions finals next year and therefore it will be a matter of pride for Albania to put up a fight against the Les Blues when they will host the reigning World Champions at the Arena Kombëtare.
France have looked much improved after their 0-2 defeat against Turkey, but their 1-1 draw against Şenol Güneş’ men in the reverse fixture and an edgy 2-1 victory against a comparatively weaker Moldovan side have raise questions regarding the consistency of this French side.
Albania, on the other hand, have been very inconsistent with four wins and as many losses, their spirited performances, however, weren’t enough to take them ahead of Turkey or Iceland managing only the fourth place in the group. They have struggled to find their feet throughout the qualification campaign and are coming to this game with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Andorra.
In the reverse fixture, Didier Deschamps’ men were dominant in their 4-1 win over Albania on Matchday 5 of the qualifiers. Kingsley Coman scored a brace with Olivier Giroud and Nanitamo Ikone also getting onto the scoresheet.
Team News and Tactics
Edoardo Reja had some injuries concern going into the last two qualifiers. The Eagles will miss some crucial players including their captain Mergim Mavraj, midfielder Taulant Xhaka and first choice strikers Armando Sadiku and Sokol Cikalleshi who actually scored their only goal in the reverse fixture.
Albania played a 3-1-4-2 formation in their 2-2 draw against Andorra but against the world champions, they will look to shift with a more defensive formation. Napoli defender Elseid Hysaj will return to the starting eleven after being rested from the previous game and set to take up the right-back spot while Freddie Veseli is ought to start in left-back.
Ardian Ismajli and Berat Djimsiti are likely to be the centre back pairing with Etrit Berisha guarding the goal. Odishe Roshi and Taulant Sulejmanov will take the right and left-wing positions respectively with the former bagging two assists from wide positions in the previous game.
The experienced Ledian Memushaj will sit in the middle of the field and try and break up play and recycle possession while the 32-year old will also have to help out his defenders for the majority of the game and will be partnered by Keidi Bare who will look to venture forward and augment the midfield. Upfront Rey Manaj and Bekim Balaj who are amongst goal will lead the lines.
Predicted Lineup (4-4-2): Berisha; Hysaj, Ismajli, Djimsiti, Veseli; Roshi, Menishaj, Bare, Sulejmanov; Balaj, Manaj
Didier Deschamps may opt for multiple changes considering their qualification to the main round next year. So Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi may get his debut for the senior team while Steven Mandanda may start between the sticks.
Lyon’s Leo Dubois is likely to start in left-back ahead of Lucas Digne while Benjamin Pavard will keep his position in the starting eleven. Presnel Kimpembe may come in ahead of Clement Lenglet while Raphael Varane may keep his place to provide that bit of experience in the backline.
Guendouzi may partner Moussa Sissoko in a double pivot with Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar adding width and panache through the flanks. Antoine Greizmann may start in the hole behind the forward with him and Lemar changing positions during attacking buildups. The likes of Blaise Matuidi, Corentin Tolisso and even Nanitamo Ikone may also find them in the starting eleven.
Wassim Ben Yedder may just find himself in the starting lineup with Deschamps deciding to rest the likes of Olivier Giroud and Kingsley Coman who have been the standout performers for the Les Blues in these qualifiers.
France (4-2-3-1): Mandanda; Pavard, Kimpembe, Varane, Dubois; Sissoko, Guendouzi; Mbappe, Greizmann, Lemar; Ben Yedder.
- Both the sides have met eight times in total, with the Les Blues proving their dominance with six wins while Albania managed to grab only a single win back in June 2015.
- The onus will be on Odishe Roshi and Rey Manaj for Albania, with the former registering two assists in the last match while the latter have found the back of the net in the last two games.
- Olivier Giroud has been the most prolific player for France in this qualifying campaign registering six goals for the Les Blues while Antoine Greizmann has bagged six assists (second highest in the qualifying campaign
- Albania will miss their best forward Sokol Cikalleshi who has netted four goals for the Eagles, most for them in the qualifying campaign.
Player to watch
The PSG forward has been a metronome for club and country, the 20-year old have already bagged three goals in the qualifying campaign and have also netted eight times along with four assists for PSG. It is quite clear that Deschamps has a lot of options but there isn’t one like Kylian Mbappe. He is way ahead of his age in terms of maturity and decisiveness in the final third and if he starts against Albania he will a huge threat for the hosts.
The 20-year old also has a telepathic connection with Antoine Griezmann and if the duo starts then it will be difficult for the Albanian defenders to keep them at bay. Mbappe’s electric pace and ability to take on multiple defenders at will make him a lethal force in the final third.
Prediction Albania-0-3 France
Deschamps will run a few changes to the starting eleven and that opens the door for Albania to get a positive result at home. Reja’s men won’t get to dictate terms with possession and have to be really sharp when chances come their way.
However, the difference in quality between the two sides may reflect on the pitch as the non-regular players will look to give their best in French colours.