Our match prediction:
Albania and Switzerland face each other at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in the second match in Group A. The Rosocrocciati are regarded as favourites in the opening match of their Euro 2016 campaign, but they will have to prove their worth on the field. Vladimir Petkovic’s men were far from impressive in warm-up games, but they did well to beat Moldova in their last friendly. Xherdan Shaqiri had a fine season with Stoke City and he will certainly pose a big threat for the opposition back line on Saturday. Switzerland are more of a team than Albania, who were more than fortunate to make it to the Euro 2016 finals and we predict that the Rossocrociati are going to pick up all three points from Saturday’s football game. You should have in mind that Switzerland are eyeing their fourth consecutive win over Albania. Last time out Switzerland recorded a 2-1 over Albania (2014 World Cup qualifiers).
Highligted Player (Mavraj):
Born in Germany to Albanian parents, Mergim Mavraj made two appearances for the Germany Under 21 side before switching his allegiance to Albania and he has since become a key defender for his new national team. The experienced centre back began his professional career at Darmstadt, but his talent was quickly spotted by Bochum scouts and he made a move to the Bundesliga side in 2007. Four years later, he surprisingly opted to join second division side Greuther Furth, but that proved a good career move as he helped the team secure promotion to the Bundesliga before putting in some solid showings in the Germany’s top flight. But, when his side eventually returned to the second division, he moved to FC Koln, where he has been since the summer of 2014. Meanwhile, Mavraj quickly established himself as an important player for the Albanian national team, establishing a good partnership with captain Lorik Cana, and helping the team secure their place at the Euro 2016 finals.
Highlighted Team (Switzerland):
While missing the first ever World Cup, Switzerland played at next four, reaching the quarter-finals on three occasions, but they were unable to repeat the success in next six appearances. Nati reached the first knockout stage in 1994, 2006 and 2014, but they couldn’t make the next step. When it comes to their European Championship appearances, the situation is even worse, as the team only qualified for the 1996, 2004 and 2016 finals, while they automatically qualified for the 2008 tournament together with co-hosts Austria. Switzerland national team of late have profited from the multicultural environment, as they appear to have closed the gap behind top European sides and also adopted a more adventurous style of play. The new generation is probably the most talented yet, with players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Ricardo Rodriguez and Valon Behrami all held in high regard. Nati now have a unique chance to try and reach the closing stages of a major tournament as their key men are either at their peak or will be there in the next couple of years.