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UEFA EURO 2024 Group Stage : Croatia vs Albania Match Preview and Lineups

UEFA EURO 2024 Group Stage

19 June, 2024 - Indian Date

Cologne Stadium

MATCH TIMES

India

06:30 AM

UAE

05:00 PM

Saudi Arabia

04:00 PM

MATCH LIVE INFO

Predicted Lineups:

Croatia possible starting lineup: Livakovic; Stanisic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Sucic, Kovacic; Majer, Budimir, Kramaric

Albania possible starting lineup: Strakosha; Hysaj, Ismajli, Djimsiti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramadani; Laci, Bajrami, Asani; Broja

Match Preview

Both Croatia and Albania face a crucial encounter on Wednesday afternoon in Hamburg, as they strive to keep their hopes alive in Group B of Euro 2024. Following opening defeats, the pressure is on both teams to secure a result that will maintain their contention for a place in the knockout phase.

**Croatia:**

Despite high expectations, Croatia's Euro 2024 campaign began on a sour note with a 3-0 defeat to Spain in Berlin. This marked another setback against La Roja, who had previously bested them in the UEFA Nations League final. Croatia's failure to score, despite having 16 shots and a significant expected goals total of 2.38, underscored their inefficacy in front of goal. A missed penalty by Bruno Petkovic further compounded their woes.

Head coach Zlatko Dalic, who has guided Croatia through successful recent tournaments, must now reverse a troubling trend of three defeats in their last five competitive matches. Historically, Croatia have been resilient in European Championships, having not lost consecutive games at the same finals since Euro 1996. Facing Albania, a team they have never met in senior international football, presents an opportunity to regain their footing. However, with reigning champions Italy looming in their final group fixture, securing points against Albania is crucial for their advancement.

**Albania:**

For Albania, Euro 2024 marks their second appearance at the Euros, following their debut in 2016. Their opener against Italy ended in a 2-1 defeat, despite a sensational start with Nedim Bajrami scoring the fastest goal in European Championship history after just 23 seconds. However, Albania could not maintain their lead, conceding twice within 16 minutes.

Under head coach Sylvinho, Albania had enjoyed a seven-game unbeaten streak in competitive matches prior to their defeat by Italy. They successfully navigated a tough qualifying group, finishing ahead of Poland and the Czech Republic. Yet, their task in Group B is formidable, with Spain awaiting them in their final fixture. Thus, securing a result against Croatia is imperative for maintaining realistic hopes of progressing.

**Match Outlook:**

Both teams are under significant pressure to avoid a second consecutive defeat, which would severely dent their chances of advancing from the group stage. Croatia's experience and pedigree at major tournaments give them a slight edge, but their recent form raises questions. Conversely, Albania's spirited performance against Italy demonstrates their potential to challenge established teams.

The match promises to be a tightly contested affair, with both sides likely adopting a cautious approach to avoid defensive lapses. Croatia will aim to capitalize on their attacking prowess and experience, while Albania will look to replicate their early intensity against Italy, hoping to catch Croatia off guard. A draw could still leave both teams with a fighting chance, but a win for either side would significantly boost their prospects of reaching the knockout stages.

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