Preview: Italy vs Albania – Team News, Lineups & Prediction

Saturday night marks the beginning of Euro 2024 for reigning European champions Italy as they meet Albania in their curtain-raising Group B encounter. Anything other than three points at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park would significantly derail Gli Azzurri’s lofty ambitions.

Drawn together with Croatia and Spain in the so-called ‘group of death,’ Italy need a flying start in Germany. Luciano Spalletti’s men head into proceedings as pre-match favorites but can’t afford to underestimate their opponents.

Amends are there to be made this summer after Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup and finished third in the latest edition of the UEFA Nations League. However, Spalletti’s new-look team seems to be back on track following a torrid period at the tail-end of Roberto Mancini’s tenure.

They stitched together a six-game unbeaten run in the build-up to the tournament (W4, D2), setting themselves up nicely for this must-win contest. Italy grabbed a morale-boosting 1-0 win against Bosnia & Herzegovina in their final warm-up fixture following a dull 0-0 draw against Turkey.

Defensive resilience showcased in those matches could prove crucial at the Euros, especially with the Italians lacking formidable attacking options. Albania will bank on Italy’s profligacy in the front third as they embark on only their second Euros appearance.

Match Preview


Italy might be the defending champions, but they’re not among the favorites to win the most prestigious European tournament. Any success would have to come at long odds, but Spalletti isn’t a stranger to defying expectations, as most recently witnessed by his Scudetto-winning exploits with Napoli.

As aforementioned, starting on the front foot will be essential to Gli Azzurri’s hopes of advancing past the group stages. Confidence can come from the recent tournaments, with Italy starting the last two Euros with victories ‘to nil,’ dispatching Turkey and Belgium 3-0 and 2-0, respectively.

Traditionally hard to score against at major tournaments, the Italians have only conceded once across their last six Euro group-stage outings (W5, D1). That bodes well for Italy’s bid to uphold a formidable record of losing just one opening match at the European Championships (W4, D4).

Player to Watch: Gianluca Scamacca

The Atalanta striker should carry the scoring burden for his country following a phenomenal season at the Gewiss Stadium. He netted 19 goals in the 2023/24 campaign. Delivering action from the get-go, 11 of those goals came before halftime.


The last and only previous time they appeared at the Euros, Albania finished their journey in the group stages after losing 1-0 to Switzerland in their Euro 2016 opener. The Albanians only scored once in three group-stage games in France.

However, they’ll look to flip the script this summer after topping their Euro 2024 qualifying group ahead of the Czech Republic and Poland (W4, D3, L1). Back-to-back multi-goal margin wins against Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein in June friendlies have bolstered their spirits ahead of the tournament.

It’s hard to expect a repeat against a more heavily fancied Italy. Yet, Sylvinho’s men will hope to keep things competitive. They fared well defensively during the qualifying cycle, conceding just four times in eight matches. It’s also worth noting that they’ve capitulated more than once in only one of their last 15 internationals.

Player to Watch: Kristjan Asllani

Despite playing second fiddle to Hakan Calhanoglu for most of Inter’s title-winning campaign, the deep-lying midfielder remains one of his country’s headline performers. He praised his clubmate Nicolo Barella in the pre-game conference, insisting he’s looking forward to this match-up.

Team News

Italy suffered two massive blows during their preparations for Euro 2024. Defensive stalwarts Francesco Acerbi and Giorgio Scalvini withdrew from the national team due to injuries, leaving Spalletti strapped for options at the back.

As if that’s not disturbing enough, Barella will probably skip this fixture or make the bench at best. His Inter colleague Davide Frattesi should fill the vacancy. Jorginho and Federico Chiesa should be the only starters from Italy’s title-winning team three years ago.

On the other hand, Albania will rely on Milan target Armando Broja to lead the line after veteran Sokol Cikalleshi announced his international retirement. In addition to Asllani, several other familiar faces will try to trouble Italy in this high-stakes duel.

Sassuolo’s Nedim Bajrami and Marash Kumbulla are among Sylvinho’s most trusted allies. The same goes for Atalanta’s Berat Djimsiti, Napoli’s Elseid Hysaj, and Lecce’s Ylber Ramadani.

Italy vs Albania Potential Lineups

Italy (3-4-3): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Matteo Darmian, Alessandro Buongiorno, Alessandro Bastoni; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Bryan Cristante, Jorginho, Federico Dimarco; Davide Frattesi, Federico Chiesa; Gianluca Scamacca.

Albania (4-2-3-1): Etrit Berisha; Elseid Hysaj, Ardian Ismajli, Berat Djimsiti, Mitaj; Kristjan Asllani, Ylber Ramadani; Jasir Asani, Nedim Bajrami, Taulant Seferi; Armando Broja.

Italy vs Albania Prediction

Given the stakes, fans can’t expect a goal galore. Instead, a cagey affair is well on the cards. Luckily for the Italy supporters, Spalleetti’s men are well-versed in bettering their opponents in such circumstances. We back Gli Azzurri to edge the Albanians by a narrow 1-0 scoreline.

Prediction: Italy Win

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