Italy under more pressure than Albania in Euro 2024 opener, Sylvinho says

football15 June 2024 06:39| © Reuters
article image
© Super Sport Football

Albania will feel less pressure than defending champions Italy in their Euro 2024 opener on Saturday, but still have a huge responsibility to perform for a partisan crown in Dortmund, coach Sylvinho said on Friday.

Few give Albania much chance of progressing from a tough group which also features Croatia and Spain, last year's Nations League finalists.

Sylvinho, however, suggested the strength of the competition in Group B could have more impact on Italy, who realistically must beat Albania to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds.

"We do have pressure, we have come here to play, to compete, to give it a go," he told reporters. "It is also decisive for our opponents, less so for us compared with Italy.

"It is crucial for them because they cannot afford too many mistakes.

"We are in a very difficult group, we are well aware of what a big tournament this is, just how tough it will be against our opponents," Sylvinho added.

"But we will go out to compete, we will go out there to scrap for every point and to have a good European Championship."

Asked about an ESPN report that tens of thousands of Albanian fans are expected at Saturday's match, Sylvinho said: "I think it will be even better to see tomorrow night ... it's a huge responsibility for us to represent these people."

Sylvinho played down concerns that forwards Armando Broja and Jasir Asani have had limited playing time for their clubs, with winger Asani having made only one substitute appearance this season for Gwangju in South Korea.

"The more a player plays the better, but they are looking good in terms of their fitness levels," he said.

Captain Berat Djimsiti, a key member of Atalanta's Europa League-winning team last season and one of several Albanians who play in Italy, said that insight could give his side an advantage.

"It certainly helps and it can help you because you are already familiar with who you are playing against ... but you are still playing against Italy," he said.