Sunday, 19 June 2016

Romania vs Albania Euro 2016 Football Match Preview And Prediction - June 20, 2016


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Romania and Albania are still in with a shout of qualifying for the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Sunday's showdown is critical for both sides.

Emanuel Rosu (Romania) and Maher Mezahi (Albania) look ahead to the action.

What's at stake here?

Emanuel Rosu: With only one point after the first two games in Group A, it's all or nothing for Romania against Albania in Lyon. A win could even guarantee qualification in second place if Switzerland lose to France.

Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu made four changes in the starting lineup for the 1-1 draw against Switzerland and was heavily criticised for abandoning possession. The game plan focused on counterattacking and it seemed things were going the right way after a first half opener from Bogdan Stancu. But after the break, Romania were a nightmare to watch and ended the game panicking inside their own box.

"The attitude has to change, we must not allow teams to dictate the game against us," Romania great Gheorghe Hagi said, after admitting he was heavily disappointed by the display against Switzerland.

Maher Mezahi: The tournament is on the line for Romania and Albania. Both sides have played pleasantly surprising football, drawing praise from pundits and supporters alike. For Albania, they know they can finish in third spot with a draw or a win, but it would still be a lottery whether their points total would be enough to see them get a playoff spot. Striker Armando Sadiku summarized the mood in the Albanian camp best when he declared "It doesn't matter if we qualify or not, we need to win for the Albanian fans."

Key battle

ER: Nicolae Stanciu vs. Lorik Cana

A surprise omission against Switzerland, Stanciu has to feature against Albania. Iordanescu built a team which completely lacked flair for the second game in the group and he can't afford to do the same on Sunday.

After serving a one-game suspension for his red card against Switzerland, Cana will captain Albania in Lyon and his commanding presence is a boost to their chances. Gianni De Biasi and his players know Romania represent their chance of European glory and a win could put them in a qualifying position from third place.

MM: Taulant Xhaka vs. Nicolae Stanciu

Much was expected of Albania's Taulant Xhaka and Romania's Nicolae Stanciu heading into the Euros. Xhaka was a stalwart in the Albanian midfield during the qualification campaign and he was instrumental in helping the Eagles to their first ever continental competition.

Steaua Bucharest's Stanciu had scored four goals in six games for Romania as a shadow striker leading into the tournament. But after a quiet match against France, he was rested versus Switzerland. Both men are now expected to start the third and final match of the group stages and whoever wins the midfield battle may hand his nation a berth in the knockout stages.

Star man

ER: Nicolae Stanciu

Romania's search for a hero could lead to Stanciu's prominence. Benched against Switzerland because Iordanescu wanted a reactive and counterattacking team, Stanciu will surely start on Sunday. Steaua's midfield jewel will need to shine for his country if they are to secure a much-needed win.

The need for Stanciu was obvious against Switzerland, as Romania struggled to keep the ball. Iordanescu was thankful for the point they earned but can't afford to even consider a similar plan this time around, or against any opponent in the Euros. Stanciu is pivotal to Romania's success and Iordanescu must have understood that by now.

MM: Armando Sadiku

Though he's yet to score a goal in a 180 minutes of play, Sadiku will be Albania's star man on Sunday evening. Sadiku was expected to play second fiddle to Sokol Cikalleshi until the former scored two goals in pre-tournament friendlies. Against both Switzerland and France, Sadiku provided mobility as a willing runner, but was having to live off of whatever half-chances bounced his way. Albania are now forced to attack, so Sadiku should benefit from more support.

Prediction

ER: Romania should win this by one or even two goals, despite Albania's fierce resistance.

MM: Romania 2-2 Albania. Two of the most defensive teams in France are now forced play on the front foot. A scoring draw should be on the cards.

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