Albania look up against it in the opening clash with Switzerland on Saturday afternoon.
We rank Albania as the weakest team at these Finals and in their first ever major international tournament they face a tough opening game against a good Switzerland side. Indeed, these two sides were in the same qualifying group for the last World Cup and the Swiss won both games.
Albania only managed seven goals in their seven completed qualifying games, and five of these came in their two matches against Armenia. Since 2010, the Albanians have played eight competitive games against top-35 ranked sides and have gone W1-D2-L5 as they’ve only scored four times and three of those defeats were without scoring. Under Gianni de Basi, Albania have become a well organised and disciplined side and given their lack of attacking threat, it’s unsurprising that 10 of their last 14 competitive games have had fewer than three goals while half have had fewer than two strikes.
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Switzerland qualified comfortably behind England as they won seven of their 10 group games and they’ve won their last nine competitive matches against teams ranked outside our top-50. Seven of those wins came to nil and five were by more than one goal, while if we include friendlies they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games against these teams with nine wins to nil.
Since 1990, there have been 25 opening group matches at World and European Championships where one team has been 30-70 places higher in our rankings and those sides have a W17-D6-L2 record. 10 of those wins were to nil while 14 of the 25 matches had fewer than three goals. As a result, Switzerland look an excellent price to win this one at 1.83, but in a game where goals look certain to be at a premium, with Under 2.5 predictably short at around 1.5, the best bet looks to be backing the Swiss to win 1-0 or 2-0.
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