Thursday, July 18, 2024

Italy vs Albania: UEFA Euro 2024 – BBC Sport

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Italy have been challenged to show no fear when they start the defence of their European crown against Albania.

The Azzurri are the holders after defeating England on penalties in the final at Wembley in 2021.

But they are a much-changed team, and under pressure to make a strong start in Dortmund against one of the lowest-ranked sides at Euro 2024.

“For any child that goes out every evening and sweats, grazes their knees – then we are their heroes, what they dream of,” said Italy boss Luciano Spalletti on Friday.

“It is up to us to live up to that.

“Giants and heroes don’t go out with fear – they go out with passion and belief.”

Albania, 66th in Fifa’s world rankings, are making only their second appearance at a major tournament.

Azzurri captain Gianluigi Donnarumma insists the Eagles, with several of the squad playing in Serie A, must not be taken lightly.

“This match is the biggest banana skin in our group. We have to be 100% switched on,” said the Paris St-Germain goalkeeper.

Albania are managed by former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Sylvinho.

“We respect our opponents but fear no one,” said the Brazilian.

“The players are ready to give their all on the European stage and make Albania proud.”

Italy and Albania are in Group B – along with Spain and Croatia.

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