Euro 2016 Group A: Switzerland to topple Albania in battle of Xhaka brothers
Holly Thackeray | June 9, 2016
Albania v Switzerland
- Euro 2016 Group A
- Saturday, June 11th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST
- Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens
- Live on BBC One
Swiss to edge tight contest
Euro 2016 gives Coral customers a glorious game with subplots galore on Saturday, as Switzerland seek to start the tournament in style against Albania, a country with whom many of the Swiss squad share close connections. La Nati have never lost to upcoming opponents the Eagles in six attempts so far, and are odds-on at 10/11 to achieve a sixth ever fixture victory.
In this early afternoon encounter, Albania are outsiders at 7/2 to stun a nation 27 places above them in the FIFA rankings, despite, or perhaps because of, rallying to their first ever major tournament finals.
The inexperienced Albanians are tough nuts to crack, having forced two qualifying draws with Denmark as well as defeating Portugal and shocking familiar pool foes France in a friendly. So, the Eagles will clearly not be taken advantage of, though their best hope here may be a draw at 11/5, but it is a result which has only occurred once between the pair.
Instead, as surprise package Albania have recorded only three victories from their past nine, Switzerland’s star power makes the Alpine outfit a tempting punt to push past Gianni De Biasi’s belligerent boys.
Swiss used to squeezing wins
La Nati soared to seven triumphs in qualifying for France, keeping clean sheets in five of those frays, making odds of 31/20 short but appealing for a Switzerland win to nil.
With both sides lacking firepower, especially after Swiss striker Josip Drmic was ruled out of the tournament with injury, customers could be wise to back a Switzerland victory and under 2.5 goals in the game at a generous 11/5.
While, furthering those thoughts, La Nati have won three of six against Albania by a one goal margin and are 23/10 to do so again after running out as victors with a one strike difference in their past three winning outings.
Can sibling rivalry throw a spanner in the Swiss works?
Back to those tantalising subplots, the headline grabbing angle of this encounter is clearly the personal contest between famous footballing brothers Granit and Taulant Xhaka. They may be family but they fall on opposite sides of the fence in this fixture due to their mixed heritage.
When asked about the tricky sibling predicament, new Arsenal midfield signing Granit told press: “My brother and I have a very good relationship. We’re not just brothers but best friends.
“Immediately after the draw was made, we had a weird feeling about it. Both of us were a bit nervous, but we’re both quite relaxed about it now,” he continued.
“Luckily enough, my parents both have two hands – five fingers for Switzerland, five fingers for Albania!”
Born in Basel to Kosovo Albanian parents, younger of the two Granit has six goals in 41 caps and is 5/1 to notch any time in this emotional encounter, while other prominent Swiss teammates that share heritage with their opponents include Watford’s erstwhile Valon Behrami and Stoke City sensation Xherdan Shaqiri (11/2), who has hit two in as many matches against Albania.
Another chance for a Switzerland strike is teenage sensation Breel Embolo (11/2 for the final say), who Coral writers recently tipped as part of the top 50 young talents to watch out for in France.
Albania thrive on underdog status
Last but not least, Albania are unlikely to mind being considered outsiders to progress past the pool phase, having used their low-key status to great effect so far, though a grab for glory here looks unlikely.
Older and adaptable Xhaka brother Taulant is 9/1 to bag his maiden international goal against the nation of his birth, while alert striker Armando Sadiku (10/3) has notched three in as many of his last matches.
Don’t forget to stop off at our special Euro 2016 section for more previews and features.
Coral’s top tip: Back a Switzerland win but under 2.5 goals at 11/5.