Spain will play Albania in their last group stage match of Euro 2024

At the Merkur Spiel-Arena on Monday night, a Spain team already confirmed as the Euro 2024 Group B winners takes on an Albanian team still hoping to qualify for the round of 16

(Football news) La Roja defeated Italy, the defending champions, 1-0 to secure their spot in the knockout stages. Meanwhile, Sylvinho’s team is now in third position after a thrilling comeback in a 2-2 draw with Croatia.

After Qazim Laci and Andrej Kramaric had earlier scored goals, Albanian midfielder Klaus Gjasula had seemingly sentenced his country to the most heartbreaking of losses against Croatia by scoring a very unfortunate own goal. From the villain at one end to the hero at the other.

Gjasula’s deflection into his own net came just four minutes after his introduction off the bench, but there would be a 95th-minute twist to the take at the Volksparkstadion, where the 34-year-old rectified his earlier misdemeanour with the most remarkable of last-gasp equalisers.

Had Gjasula not made up for his indiscretion in the dying embers, Albania would be packing their bags and preparing to depart their hotel early, but Sylvinho’s third-placed side remain in with a chance of a first-ever knockout appearance at a major tournament.

On the other hand, unwanted history could be made for the Albanians, who are at risk of becoming the first men’s team to score in their opening three games of the Euros and not win any of them.

Currently residing in the bronze medal position – above Croatia on goal difference – Albania will finish second if they can stun the Spaniards and Croatia beat Italy by no more than two goals at the very least, and qualifying for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides is not beyond the realm of possibility either.

Of course, such scenarios firstly hinge on the Red and Blacks doing what neither Croatia nor Italy have been able to do at the current tournament so far – take a point off or even score against Spain – but Luis de la Fuente’s side could be forgiven for letting their guard down slightly here.

Five days on from their resounding 3-0 success over Croatia – laying down quite the early marker in the process – own goals were also the order of the day in Spain’s colossal clash with Italy, an encounter between the two sides to have won three of the past four editions of the European Championships.

However, La Roja had the holders’ number all evening on June 20 and deservedly came up trumps thanks to Riccardo Calafiori turning the ball into his own net with 55 minutes played, a contribution which guaranteed Spain’s progression to a further round as group winners.

With six points accrued, four goals scored and zero conceded, Spain have more than underlined their status as a serious contender for continental glory – even if they did fly slightly under the radar before the tournament began – having made a mockery of the so-called group of death thus far.

Furthermore, by topping Group B, De la Fuente’s side will only have to face one of the best third-placed sides from Groups A, D, E or F in their last-16 battle, although that contest could precede a mouthwatering quarter-final with hosts Germany on July 5.

For now, though, extending their applaudable winning sequence to five matches across all competitions and completing Group B with a 100% success rate is the goal for La Roja, who coincidentally have a 100% success rate against Albania, winning all eight of their previous men’s internationals.

A 9-0 obliteration in a Euro 1992 qualifier is still the Albanians’ heaviest defeat in the history of their men’s team, and on the one previous occasion that Spain won each of their opening three Euros matches, they ended up going all the way in 2008.

Also read: Italy will play Croatia in their last group stage at the Euro 2024


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