France v Albania preview: Didier Deschamps' side bid to continue winning run
By Andrew Dickson
Last Updated: 15/06/16 8:43pm
France will be expected to reaffirm their status as pre-tournament favourites when they come up against debutants Albania in Marseille on Wednesday.
After their narrow but merited 2-1 win over Romania on Friday, Didier Deschamps' men could clinch a place in the last 16 depending on the earlier result between the Romanians and Switzerland.
There is cause for concern, however, as they lost 1-0 to Albania when they met 12 months ago through an Ergys Kace free kick.
Indeed, the French also had to come from behind to draw another friendly 1-1 in Rennes in November 2014, with Antoine Greizmann denying Albania their first win on French soil.
Even with those recent results in mind, Deschamps will have confidence his team can succeed at the imposing Stade Velodrome.
The hosts have lost just once in their last 11 matches at the venue - against Argentina in 2009 - and have won each of their last seven home internationals.
Albania, on the other hand, will be bidding to avoid three consecutive defeats for the first time since October 2013.
France are likely to keep the same starting line-up that beat Romania 2-1 in the Group A opener last Friday. Moussa Sissoko could be called into central midfield should any changes be made.
Albania will be without captain Lorik Cana after he was sent off in their opening match against Switzerland after receiving two yellow cards, meaning Arlind Ajeti or Frederic Veseli could replace him in defence.
France have won four of the six matches played against Albania but have failed to win either of the last two meetings (D1 L1).
Albania have never scored more than once in a game against France (three goals scored in six matches).
Albania have never beaten Les Bleus in France, conceding nine goals across three games and scoring only once in return (D1 L2).
France have played at the Stade Velodrome twice in the European Championships, losing to Czechoslovakia in 1960 (0-2) but beating Portugal in 1984 (3-2). Both games saw them concede twice.
France have won their last six games on home soil in the European Championships (5 in 1984, 1 in 2016).
France have only kept two clean sheets in their last 17 games at the European Championships (against Romania in 2008 and Ukraine in 2012).
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud - who scored 24 club goals last season - has eight goals in his last six starts for France.
I was quite impressed with Albania in their opening defeat to Switzerland. Even with 10 men they had a right go but just could not stick the ball in the back of the net. However, France got better as their first match went on. The nerves started to disappear and they relaxed a lot more which will help them as the tournament goes on.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0
Wednesday night's clash represents the most one-sided clash of Euro 2016 according to Sky Bet, with Albania 14/1 outsiders for the victory. France are just 2/9 for another win and 3/1 favourites to win the competition, with their opponents given the second longest outright price of those in the competition at 250/1.
Olivier Giroud heads the first goalscorer market at 100/30 and is being tipped up to do so in a 2-0 France win at 10/1 as Jamie Redknapp's tip.
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