The host nation managed to scrape thorough their opening game 2-1 against Romania under intense pressure due to a moment of absolute magic from West Ham's Dimitri Payet. It really was a stunning goal and it not only capped off a magnificent game for Payet but also an amazing breakthrough season for club and country.
Albania on the other hand were unlucky to leave with nothing against Switzerland especially after losing Captain and former Sunderland man Lorik Cana very early on due to a second bookable offence. Despite this, they carved open the Swiss defence on a few occasions and could have nicked a goal, if their age old problem in attack hadn't continued. They also had Etrit Berisha, who we pinpointed before the game, to thank for keeping them in it saving 3 one on ones during the course of the game. I think they will definitely have to rely on him again if they're to get anything from this game.
France started out great against Romania and took the lead through the in form Arsenal man Olivier Giroud, things all looked to be going according to plan until Patrice Evra brought down Bogdan Stancu in the box who duly converted the resulting penalty. Romania then did very well at stifling France and stopping them from playing until that moment of magic from Payet. I guess there are 2 ways of looking at it really, one way is that France we're lucky and will need to step up against the bigger teams as Romania are not of any real quality and should not have been able to shackle them the way they did. Another way is that France are clearly the real deal, they came out with the win when everybody else thought they would draw and did what champions do, which is find a way to win the game no matter what.
I personally think France are the real deal and should be able to beat Albania, but it may only be 1-0 again due to Albania's cracking defensive record and terrible attacking one.
France will win this game, they have the quality and now 3 points under their belt. They will not want to go into the Switzerland game needing a result to qualify and I don't think they will in all honesty. With Payet in the form he is and Giroud scoring for fun they should prove too much for Albania, and that's not even including the likes of Pogba, Griezmann and Martial. Albania will keep them out for as long as possible but should eventually buckle under the immense pressure.
I don't think people will have learned their lesson from the Switzerland game and will doubt Albania defensively yet again, Albania and more importantly Berisha will prove very hard to break down and I feel it will only be in the second half when they push forward hoping for a winner, that's when France will punish them. Not going to be a high scoring affair in my opinion.
Like I said before, I don't think this will be a high scoring affair, purely because Albania cannot score for love nor money but they have a world class goal keeper and a great defensive record. This game will be decided later on like the Romania game and I think it will only be by the single goal, which should inevitably go to France.
With Albania fresh in the first half and their managers instructions fresh in their ear, they should be able to hold off the French as I think they're still struggling to get that liquid fluency to their game which should come later in the tournament. Once Albania get tired and step out more later in the game, it should free up room for the likes of Martial to come off the bench and bamboozle them with his dribbling ability.
This guy is so underrated by the French fans, media and football fans generally. He is a terrific goal scorer and I think he could fire France to Euro glory providing his gets the service. With players like Payet and Martial playing, service should not be an issue for him. He will mix it up physically with these Albanian defenders and is always a threat in the air or on the ground. I back him to score again.
If this game does have more than 1 goal in it, you can bet Dimitri Payet will be involved in one way or another. He bagged a goal and an assist in the last game and I can see him doing it again. All it takes is a set piece and he can stand it up for a team mate or just smash it into the corner himself, with either foot!