5 things we learnt from Italy vs Albania
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5 things we learnt from Italy vs Albania

16/06/24 13:05

5 things we learnt from Italy vs Albania

Italy managed to pull back a nervy win after conceding within the first 30 seconds of the match to beat Albania 2-1 in their opening fixture of EURO 2024.

Albania showed promise that they could perform well in their other group fixtures against Croatia and Spain after showing that they aren’t a team to be walked all over in this tournament, and could potentially cause an upset.

With the final outcome living up to most people’s expectations of the Azzurri taking all three points from the fixture, here are five things we learned from the cagey affair.

1. New record for fastest ever goal in the EUROs

Albania set the tone for the match with Nedim Bajrami scoring only 22 seconds after kick off. This beat Dmitri Kirichenko’s previous time of 67 seconds set against Greece in 2004 to become the fastest goal in the history of this tournament. This goal set alight the BVB Stadion as the thousands of Albanian fans rose to their feet, dominating the noise and pushing their team on.

2. Italy’s defense has been weakened by the loss of Chiellini and Bonucci

For such a long time Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci stood tall and proud on the backline for Italy, and with such a great defensive partnership the Azzurri became very difficult to break down - one of the main reasons for their success in EURO 2020.

Since both have retired from international football, it was always going to take some time for new centre-backs to settle into their roles, and it wasn’t long before the side were caught out by Bajrami to concede a goal, something that was almost unheard of for the two Italian giants.

While there is great quality in the new centre-back partnership of Alessandro Bastoni and Ricardo Calafiori, their talent is raw and they are still very young with a lot of experience to gain at international level, especially trying to form a relationship together with good communication and understanding of each other’s playing styles.

However, Bologna’s Calafiori, despite being only 22 years old, has shown certain promise for the future of the Azzurri since making his debut for his nation only two weeks ago against Turkey. The Serie A player of the month for May is showing his skills and potential on the biggest of all stages.

3. Ex-Arsenal man Sylvinho’s tactics could catch teams out

As expected Albania’s defense proved strong to only concede two goals in quick succession in a game where Italy had 17 shots at goal. The strength of the Eagles defense could prove crucial in their two upcoming matches against Croatia (Wednesday 19th June, 14:00 BST) and Spain (Monday 24th June, 20:00 BST).

The experience in the centre-back pairing of Berat Djimsiti and Arlind Ajeti shone through and their knowledge of the game was clear and became one of the main factors for keeping Albania in the game for so long. To go with this, Brentford’s Thomas Strakosha performed outstandingly in goal, with a highlight of pushing the ball onto the post after a shot came at him from Davide Frattesi. This defensive trio could be the reason Albania might just escape their group.

4. Croatia should be worried for their position in the group

After Albania’s somewhat impressive showing in Dortmund, and Croatia’s lack-lustre performance against Spain in Berlin, Zlatko Dalic’s side should be concerned for their match against the Eagles on Wednesday, as if both side play how they did on the first match day, you would anticipate that Albania will come out on top. With the Croatian squad aging and seeming to rely on the likes of Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic (aged 38 and 31) for their creativity, you wouldn’t expect them to get very far into this tournament, much to the surprise of many after their recent success in getting to the World Cup final in Russia 2018, and the semi-final in Qatar 2022.

5. Passionate Albanian fans take over

Prior to kick off in the build up to the game, Albanian fans took to the streets of Dortmund to show their support for their nation, and the streets turned Red. There was an estimated 50,000 Albania fans in Dortmund for their clash with the Azzurri, and they really did make themselves known. Italy fans were few and far between in comparison to the Eagles’ supporters, who carried their chants on into the stadium and flooded the seats, causing a thunderous sound around the BVB Stadion. The supporters maintained their energy throughout the entire match and if there comes a point when atmosphere comes into play with who will win, you would expect Albania to come out on top.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Lily Perrill

Writer

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