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Euro 2024: Italy vs Albania tips and predictions – Red and Blacks to stun the defending champions

Italy begin the defence of their European Championship title on Saturday evening as they take on a fearless Albanian team in Dortmund (2000 BST).

Albania might not sound like much of a threat but if their qualifying performance is anything to go by, Italy could be in for a shock.

The Red and Blacks are currently managed by Brazil, Arsenal and Barcelona star Sylvinho. Sitting next to the head coach is the former Argentina, Man City and West Ham legend Pablo Zabaleta.

The duo don’t have star power in their squad, but that didn’t stop them from topping their qualifying group which included follow Euros participants Czech Republic and Poland.

 

 

 

Albania’s sole defeat in the group came away against the Poles, but they have since gone seven matches unbeaten in competitive fixtures.

Sylvinho’s men head into the tournament with low expectations and that applies to their opening match.

All the pressure will be on the Italians who head into the tournament as the defending champions following their Euro 2020 triumph over England.

Luciano Spalletti’s squad mainly consists of Serie A players, with just three men playing their club football away from Italy.

The champions are in decent form having lost just one of their last 11 matches. However, there was little to shout about in their warm-up games after drawing 0-0 with Turkey and beating Bosnia 1-0.

Italy have a solid record in opening matches at the European Championships, losing just one of their last nine.

Despite this, we’re backing the Albanians to pull off a surprise and hold the defending champions to a draw.

Planet Sport Bet Special: Bet £10 pre-match and if both teams score in the first half, get a £5 free bet!

 

Team news

Italy are without the pair of Francesco Acerbi and Giorgio Scalvini who withdrew from the squad.

Nicolo Zaniolo, Domenico Berardi, Destiny Udogie and suspended midfielder Sandro Tonali are also out of action.

Albania have the majority of their stars at their disposal, including Chelsea man Armando Broja who will spearhead the attack.

 

Key stats

-  Italy has lost just one of their last nine opening Euro matches

-  Albania won their Euro qualifying group

-  Italy have lost just one of their last 11 international matches

-  Albania are unbeaten in seven competitive matches

 

Suggested bets

Match result – draw

Albania to score

Correct score – 1-1

 

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