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Euro 2024: Croatia vs Albania tips and predictions – Ageing Croats to struggle in must-win clash

The second round of group games at Euro 2024 begins this Wednesday afternoon as Albania and Croatia battle for survival in Hamburg (1400 BST).

After facing a three-goal trouncing from the Spanish, Croatia are on the brink of early elimination.

Perhaps the Croats have entered the wrong tournament. Instead of coming to the Euros, they should have attended the Old-Boys event considering the number of veterans in the squad.

Captain Luka Modric and vice-skipper Ivan Perisic are a combined age of 73. There are also five other players over the age of 30.

The Croats are counting on experience over youth, but that strategy hasn’t got off to the best of starts.

 

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Speaking of starts, Albania certainly got off to a good one. The Red and Blacks scored the fastest goal in Euros history in their tournament opener against Italy as Nedim Bajrami found the back of the net after just 23 seconds.

Albania went on to lose the match 2-1 but there was certainly a lot to like about Sylvinho’s side – there has been for some time.

This was Albania’s first competitive defeat in eight games and the second time they conceded two or more goals in 15 matches.

While Croatia are on the slide, Albania are very much on the rise and we’re expecting that to play out on Wednesday.

Both teams to score but Albania to come out victorious is the way to go.

 

Team news

Croatia are expected to make changes with Borna Sosa and Luka Sucic set to come in. Nikola Vlasic, meanwhile, is out for the tournament with an injury he sustained in training.

Jasir Asani was initially a doubt for Albania, but he is expected to feature. Chelsea’s Armando Broja will lead the attack.

 

Key stats

- Croatia’s loss to Spain ended their six-match winning run

- Albania scored the fastest goal in Euro history against Italy – netting after 23 seconds

- Croatia have gone out in the group stage of just one of their last four European Championship campaigns

- Albania have lost one of their last eight competitive games

 

Suggested bets

Albania to win and both teams to score

Albania to score last

Over 2.5 goals

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