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ESPN FC's Euro 2016 awards

Euro 2016
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Euro 2016 team preview: Albania prepare for a major tournament debut

Group A: France | Romania | Albania | Switzerland

Albania were not expected to be here at all as this will be their first major tournament. Qualification for the knockout stage would be considered a major achievement.

How they qualified: Second in Group I

Albania pipped Denmark and Serbia to the runners-up spot, though it was their controversial match against the latter in Belgrade, which the Albanians were awarded 3-0 after its abandonment, that tipped the scale in their favour. A clinching 3-0 win in Armenia sparked wild scenes of jubilation.

How they'll proceed:

Gianni De Biasi's tight, uncompromising unit might be suited to tournament football, but the best Albania can hope for is to challenge Romania for the third spot. It might be too big an ask.

TBD by Editor
Albania won four of their eight qualifiers en route to Euro 2016.

Predicted lineup:

(4-5-1); GK: Etrit Berisha; DF: Elseid Hysaj, Berat Djimsiti, Lorik Cana, Ansi Agolli; MF: Shkelzen Gashi, Taulant Xhaka, Burim Kukeli, Amir Abrashi, Ermir Lenjani; FW: Sokol Cikalleshi.

Key player: Lorik Cana

The defender is perhaps his country's best player ever and is rightly regarded as a national icon. Cana will captain the side and combines a fearless approach with the degree of composure that top-level experience brings.

Manager: Gianni De Biasi

The Italian was appointed in 2011 and led Albania to some encouraging results in World Cup qualifying. Victory in Portugal got this team's Euro 2016 campaign off to a remarkable start, and De Biasi has instilled organization and belief into his players.

Schedule:

June 11 vs. Switzerland (9 a.m. ET/1 p.m. GMT; Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens)
-- LIVE on ESPN

June 15 vs. France (3 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT; Stade Velodrome, Marseille)
-- LIVE on ESPN

June 19 vs. Romania (3 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT; Stade de Lyon, Lyon)
-- LIVE on ESPN2

Games are also LIVE on ESPN Deportes, ESPN FC, WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

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