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  • Writer's pictureJames Schneider

Italy 2 - 1 Albania

Italy comes into this tournament as the defending champions, while this is only Albania’s second appearance at the Euros, with the first being in 2016. After failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, Italy will be poised to reclaim their international prowess. 

The match got off to a cracking start in front of a surprising crowd of 50,000 Albanians to just 10,000 Italians. A silly giveaway by Federico DiMarco in the 1’  allowed for the quickest goal in Euro history by Nedim Bajrami and Albania. The quick start was exactly what Albania needed and exactly the opposite of what Italy wanted. The Italians however equalized just 10 minutes later, after a corner kick routine led to a header from Alessandro Bastoni. Just 5 minutes later, Nicola Barella smashed in a half volley to put the Italians up 2-1. Apart from their initial goal, Albania looked like they were playing on their heels as Italy pressed on to close out the half. 

The second half was continued control from the Italians. The way they handled possession made one almost forget it was just a 1 goal game. Albania didn’t have much going for them, however late in the dying embers, a through ball over the top saw Rey Manaj in on goal with an opportunity to equalize. He tried to chip it past Donnarumma who just got enough of a touch to keep the ball out of his net. 

The Italians did well to not let the early blunder get into their heads, in front of a hostile crowd. They take command of second place of Group B while Albania sit in third. Italy will take on the group leaders, Spain, in their next match. Albania will look to bounce back against a Croatia side that was blitzed by Spain. 

My man of the match: Alessandro Bastoni

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