Preview: Albania vs. Liechtenstein – prediction, team news, lineups

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Preview: Albania vs. Liechtenstein – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday’s friendly clash between Albania and Liechtenstein, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Before trying to cause a seismic shock in the Euro 2024 Group of Death, Albania seek a stress-free friendly win over minnows Liechtenstein on Monday night in Hungary.

Sylvinho‘s side will compete at the continent’s premier tournament for just the second time later this summer, while their ‘visitors’ continue to assume the role of European whipping boys.

Match preview

© Reuters

Coming on leaps and bounds with former Arsenal and Barcelona left-back Sylvinho at the helm, Albania surprisingly came up trumps in a tightly-contested Euro 2024 qualifying Group E, pipping the Czech Republic to first place on account of a superior head-to-head record.

None of Poland, Moldova or the Faroe Islands could match Albania’s tally of 15 points from eight matches either, as Sylvinho oversaw just one defeat to the former country in his side’s opening affair and subsequently masterminded a terrific seven-game unbeaten run.

However, Albania’s reward for topping the section is an extremely daunting trio of group fixtures, as reigning European champions Italy, 2008 and 2012 winners Spain and 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia are all waiting to hand Sylvinho’s men a rude Euros awakening.

Unsurprisingly tipped to finish dead last in that gruelling group, the Red and Blacks have done themselves no favours in 2024 so far, suffering a 3-0 defeat to Chile in their opening friendly of the year before falling to a 1-0 loss to Sweden three days later.

Monday’s fixture may be as winnable as they come for Albania, though – with the possible exception of San Marino – and Sylvinho’s troops will also clash with Azerbaijan at Hungary’s Haladas Sportkomplexum before participating in just their second-ever major tournament.

Liechtenstein coach Rene Pauritsch with the players at half time on March 23, 2023© Reuters

Even if Albania’s Euro 2024 run ends in another group-stage exit – as was the case at the 2016 edition – the Red and Blacks will still be the envy of Monday’s foes Liechtenstein, whose most recent continental qualifying campaign was their worst to date.

From their seven previous attempts to make it to the finals, the Blue-Reds had acquired at least one point on each occasion, but from their 10 contests in Group J this time around, all 10 ended in defeat, an unwanted honour shared with San Marino, Cyprus, Malta and Gibraltar.

Furthermore, only the scoreless latter notched fewer goals than the one that Liechtenstein managed throughout their humbling preliminary campaign, and up until March 26, Konrad Funfstuck‘s men were on an abysmal 24-game losing run across all competitions.

That horrendous streak was snapped in their last fixture – a 1-1 draw with Latvia – but the Blue-Reds faithful have to go back to October 2020 for the last time that their side emerged on the correct end of the scoreline, edging out Luxembourg 2-1 in a friendly encounter.

Nearly four years later, Liechtenstein appropriately lock horns with Albania for the fourth time in men’s international football, but all three previous meetings have ended 2-0 to the Red and Blacks, including a pair of 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Albania friendly form:

Albania form (all competitions):

Liechtenstein friendly form:

Liechtenstein form (all competitions):

Team News

Albania's Jasir Asani celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on October 12, 2023© Reuters

Twenty-seven Albanian troops have been summoned to Sylvinho’s preliminary squad for the Euros – meaning that the Brazilian needs only axe one player from his ranks for the final tournament – and the vast majority of his big-hitters are fit and firing.

That list includes Chelsea striker Armando Broja – even if his nightmare Fulham loan spell saw him make just eight appearances and fail to score once – and captain Berat Djimsiti, now a Europa League winner with Atalanta BC.

Brentford’s Thomas Strakosha remains a national team stalwart despite his lack of Premier League action, and the 29-year-old is battling for goalkeeping supremacy with Empoli’s Etrit Berisha, whose recent chest injury could see him lose out to his younger colleague.

As far as Liechtenstein’s squad is concerned, only eight of Funfstuck’s men ply their trade outside of their homeland, including striker Dennis Salanovic, on the books with Canada’s York United and the highest scorer in this month’s ranks with four goals to his name.

Experienced midfielder Marcel Buchel – once of Juventus and now representing SPAL – should be among the starters in the engine room, while Benjamin Buchel, formerly of English clubs Bournemouth, Oxford United and Barnet, guards the sticks.

Albania possible starting lineup:
Strakosha; Hysaj, Ismajli, Djimsiti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramandani, Laci; Asani, Broja, Manaj

Liechtenstein possible starting lineup:
B. Buchel; Meier, Marxer, Traber, Beck, Goppel; Buchel, Sele; Wolfinger; Salanovic, Saglam

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We say: Albania 4-0 Liechtenstein

Albania may have been found wanting in their opening two fixtures of the year, but Sylvinho’s Euro 2024-bound men should have no trouble putting little Liechtenstein to the sword on Monday.

Straight after putting a stop to their abysmal losing sequence, the Blue-Reds will likely revert to type as Albania replenish their morale stores at a crucial time.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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