Jun 15, 2016

    Buoyant France set to go all out to sink Albania


    MINNOWS Albania could feel the full force of Euro 2016 hosts France as confidence grows ahead of their Group A encounter in Marseille tonight, warned striker Olivier Giroud.

    The Arsenal striker put any lingering doubts over his goal-scoring form behind him after 57 minutes at the Stade de France on Friday to head the opening goal of the tournament.

    Having begun their campaign nervously, the weight of expectation on Les Bleus was shed in the final minutes when Dimitri Payet's stunning strike secured a precious 2-1 win over Romania.

    Described as a "relief" by defender Adil Rami, Giroud believes fans can now look forward to seeing Didier Deschamps' men play to their full potential.

    For Albania, the tournament started in ominous fashion when captain Lorik Cana was shown the first red card of the competition in a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland on Saturday.

    While a France win tonight will see the hosts secure their place in the last 16 of the competition, and allow Deschamps to rotate players ahead of their final group game against Switzerland on Sunday in Lille, it would spell disaster for the Balkan minnows.

    Albania's coach Gianni de Biasi's side play a well-drilled Italian-style counter-attacking game, often "parking the bus" to stifle the opposition.

    The tactic rarely leads to more than a single goal being conceded.

    A defensively tight Albania could test France's ability to carve open opposition defences and Deschamps is expected to ring a few changes.

    But veteran defender Patrice Evra was quick to remind fans of France's collective strength and called on media not to heap unnecessary pressure on individual players - whether good or bad.

    "The star of the France team is the team itself, not one or two players," he said.