Italy vs Albania

, KO: 20:00 Jun 15, 2024, Signal Iduna Park

EUROPEAN champions Italy will be out to make a statement of intent as they start the defence of their crown with a clash against debutants Albania at Euro 2024.

Few people fancied the Azzurri to go all the way three years ago but Roberto Mancini managed to get the best out of his squad and they ended up pipping England on penalties at Wembley to get their hands on the trophy.

But the Italians followed up that triumph by failing to qualify for the World Cup, crashing out in the play-off semi-finals with a shock defeat to North Macedonia.

That debacle cost Mancini his job and former Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti is now the man charged with masterminding another Euros triumph.

Bet365 don't fancy their chances, with the Italians at 14/1, and it's probably because they're in a tough group with fellow big guns Spain and Croatia.

Having qualified for the first major finals in their history, it's a tall order for Albania to get out of such a tough section but they will savour every moment of their adventure in Germany.

Sylvinho's side topped their qualifying group ahead of the Czechs and Poland so they're no mugs and could cause a few surprises at these finals.

How the bookies view it: Holders firm favourites for opener

It's no surprise to see the Italians as odds-on favourites for this one at 2/5. The Albanians are rank outsiders at 15/2 and even the draw is pretty big at 7/2.

Head to head: Italian sob for Albania

The Azzurri have a perfect record in this fixture, having won all four games against Albania. The Eastern European side have only managed one goal against Italy and it came in the last meeting, a 3-1 friendly loss two years ago.

Players to watch: Fratt boy can noise-up Euro freshmen

It's unclear who will get the nod to start up front for Italy, so it's better to back a midfielder to score. Davide Frattesi netted three times in qualifying and also scored the Azzurri's only goal in their two warm-up games. He's 10/3 for anytime scorer in the Euros opener, which looks a little overpriced.

Nedim Bajrami scored three times for Albania in qualifying and also chipped in with a goal in their warm-up win over Azerbaijan. The Sassuolo winger is 9/2 to either score or assist and 12/5 just to have a shot on target which looks worth a punt.

Probable line-ups

Spalletti's big dilemma is who starts up front, with Gianluca Scamacca impressing in Atalanta's Europa League triumph but Genoa's Mateo Retegui having a better scoring record for the Azzurri. The Albanians should be at full strength for the biggest game in their history.

Italy: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Buongiorno, Bastoni, Cambiaso, Cristante, Jorginho, Dimarco, Frattesi, Chiesa, Scamacca

Albania: Strakosha, Hysaj, Balliu, Djimsiti, Ismajli, Ramadani, Asslani, Bajrami, Manaj, Broja, Daku.

Anything else catch the eye?

The first game in a group can often be cagey as teams are desperate not to lose. Albania will be fired up so there could be some value in the half-time draw at 5/4 while backing most goals to come after the break is 21/20.

We could see a lot of cards in this one with Albania likely to steam into a few tackles and referees told to clamp down on dissent. I've yet to see a market for total cards but Albania midfielder Ylber Ramadani looks good at 9/4 to go in the book while Italy's Gianluca Mancini is overpriced at 3/1 in the same market.

The Albanians only drew a blank in two of their qualifiers and are unlikely just to sit back and let Italy have it all their own way. So the evens available for over 2.5 Albania shots on target looks good.

This match between Italy and Albania will be played on Jun 15, 2024 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Italy vs Albania prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.

Italy vs Albania Betting Tips & Predictions
Over 2.5 Albania shots on target
Most goals in second half
Ylber Ramadani to be carded
Further Reading

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