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Albania V Spain: Euro 2024 – Live

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23 min: Marginally better from Albania. Asllani, undoubtedly this team’s talisman, has started to make some inroads in midfield. But the Internazionale man is yet to create a real chance of note.

21 min: Bajrami makes a good break down the left flank for Albania, and tries to nutmeg Vivian on the byline but the Athletic Bilbao defender, making just his third appearance tonight, makes an expert tackle.

19 min: After their initial flurry of crosses, Spain settle into a more familiar possession-based game. It’s up to Albania to come and get the ball now. The difference is under De la Fuente’s style, Spain’s players are not afraid to let fly with a cross or a shot from range. It’s a long way from tiki-taka, and arguably a lot more exciting. And tonight, with Joselu in the middle and with Grimaldo and Navas providing extra width, this style suits them.

17 min: De la Fuente was fairly audacious in announcing that he was manager of the best team at this year’s Euros, but he might be right you know. Not sure you can call Spain a dark horse, but I don’t think many had them as favourites above England, Germany or France coming into the tournament.

Albania don’t get close to Olmo in a pocket of space in front of their defence and the RB Leipzig man lays on a wonderfully-weighted pass inside the full back for Ferran Torres. Such is the quality of the ball that Torres simply runs onto it and sweeps it first time past Strakosha with his weaker left foot, in in off the post! A quality finish, but an even better assist from Olmo.

Ferran Torres slots the ball past Albania’s despairing keeper Thomas Strakosha to open the scoring for Spain. Photograph: Bernadett Szabó/ReutersThen wheels away in celebration. Photograph: Alessandra Tarantino/APAnd celebrates in front of joyous Spain fans and disappointed Albania fans. Photograph: Frank Augstein/APGOAL! Albania 0-1 Spain (Ferran Torres 14)This was coming.

12 min: Twice in a minute Spain so nearly take the lead from deadly crosses. Navas whips one towards Merino at the back post but Strakosha makes a brilliant save and Ajeti hacks away the rebound. Next, Laporte crosses from deep for Joselu, but the Real Madrid man heads just over!

9 min: For those of you surprised to see Manaj preferred to Broja up front for Albania, Manaj scored 18 goals in the Turkish league for Sivasspor.

7 min: After a frantic first seven minutes, Spain have started to get their feet on the ball. Navas has started pinging crosses towards Joselu, but Ajeti and Djimsiti hold firm in defence.

5 min: Quite the start from Albania, who press and counterpress to within an inch of their lives, and look confident and enterprising with the ball. A corner is won but cleared by Spain at the near post.

3 min: Albania pour forward again and get a dangerous cross into the box, Grimaldo makes a fine defensive header to get things clear at the back post for Spain. Have been impressed with Cucurella at this tournament, but surprised that Grimaldo appears to be the second choice to the Chelsea man. Grimaldo had a sensational season at Bayer Leverkusen and was crucial to their Bundesliga title. But De la Fuente evidently prefers Cucurella.

1 min: Albania striker Manaj, preferred up front to Chelsea’s Armando Broja, leaves one late on Navas. That’s a sore one for the veteran right back.

Peeeeeeeeep! And we’re off in Düsseldorf.

Fans of Albania get their flare game going as Jesús Navas and his Spain teammates get ready for kick-off. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty ImagesJesús Navas, a World Cup winner in 2010, is Spain’s captain tonight at the age of 38.

The teams are out. Albania in their scarlet red, Spain in a changed yellow kit. It should be said that the crowd feels more Albanian than Spain tonight. The anthems are raucous, and even Albania’s Brazilian manager Sylvinho looks like he might either combust or burst into tears.

Just over five minutes until kick-off. We are also covering Croatia v Italy of course, which you can follow with Scott Murray.

This surely isn’t the first international match to feature two starting goalkeepers who play for the same club, but this is almost certainly the first international to feature two Brentford goalkeepers at either end. Perhaps a question The Knowledge can answer.

Albania’s Thomas Strakosha has featured just four times for the Bees this season, but the former Lazio man remains an experienced pair of hands, while Spain’s David Raya has shone on loan at Arsenal from the west London club.

Thought this was a very interesting read on the history of football in Albania.

And here’s our team guide on the squad for Euro 2024, led of course by the former Arsenal defender Sylvinho.

“German regulations, that’s what will get England through,” emails Charles Antaki. “It’s true that’s apart from Spain no other team has under- 17s in their squad, but there must be other regulations which will knock out a few obstacles along the way – Slovenia must surely have somebody who hasn’t filled in their TV licence application correctly, France is probably full of players who’ve filed their tax returns late, and Germany … well, the strategy probably falls down at that point, but at least England should find out in the final”

Nico Williams, another Spain star on the bench tonight, has been one of the most exciting players so far.

Nico WilliamsHere’s Sid Lowe on the Athletic star after his performance against Italy.

Unsurprisingly, Williams is on this list.

It is perhaps not surprising that 16-year-old wonderkid Lamine Yamal is on the bench tonight, as Spain could be subject for a fine for playing him. German regulations prohibit those under 18 from working past 8pm local time, but athletes can play until 11pm, including time for showering and media duties. Seeing as this game is due to finish just before 11pm, it’s unlikely that Lamine will be out of the stadium by the required time.

It should be noted that most of the knockout games are at 9pm CET, so this is going to be a recurring problem for Spain. Lamine doesn’t turn 17 until the day after the final. German authorities have yet to confirm if Spain will receive special dispensation regarding Lamine.

You might notice that Albania striker Mirlind Daku is not in the squad tonight after receiving a two-match ban for using a megaphone to join ­supporters in nationalist chants after Albania’s draw with Croatia.

That’s a fascinating Spain XI, based upon Luis de la Fuente’s press conference yesterday, in which his comments suggested that there would not be sweeping changes.

There’s a lot at stake tomorrow – there’s prestige, recognition and we want to keep improving. We’ll approach this game as we have all the others, as if it’s the last. Of course, we have a game plan for the players we feel are apt for this game. We’re only focusing on winning because we want to win every game.

The last thing we want is injuries. We’re only focused on sending out the best players for our game plan. Of course, you might say this player is rested or that one is rested, but this is a tournament with seven games. We can’t worry about injuries or suspensions.

Just look at that Spain team! A whopping 10 changes from the XI that started in the last match against Italy! Ten!

The teams!Albania: Strakosha, Balliu, Ajeti, Djimsiti, Mitaj, Ramadani, Asllani, Asani, Laci, Bajrami, Manaj.

Subs: Etrit Berisha, Hysaj, Gjasula, Broja, Kastrati, Mihaj, Seferi, Medon Berisha, Muci, Ismajli, Abrashi, Kumbulla, Aliji, Hoxha.

Spain: Raya, Jesus Navas, Vivian, Laporte, Grimaldo, Zubimendi, Merino, Torres, Olmo, Oyarzabal, Joselu.

Subs: Carvajal, Le Normand, Morata, Fabian, Remiro, Baena, Williams, Yamal, Gonzalez, Simon, Cucurella, Lopez, Perez.

Referee: Glenn Nyberg (Sweden)

If Albania fail to beat Spain, it should be said, England qualify for the last 16, at least as a third-placed team.

PreambleAs Flight of the Conchords once proclaimed: it’s business time. The New Zealand duo might have been talking about the importance of recycling and the birds and the bees, rather than the conclusion of Group B at the 2024 European Championships, but the point stands: things are hotting up and there’s everything to play for.

Well, nearly everything. Spain have already topped the group, owing to their superior head-to-head record over Italy, but that’s pretty much all that has been decided.

Here’s how Group B stands going into the final game. As per all final group games Albania v Spain and Italy v Croatia are running concurrently, both a 8pm BST/9pm CET kick-off.

As mentioned, Italy, Albania or Croatia could still have a chance of qualifying if they fail to finish at least second in becoming one of the four best third-placed teams. As per Uefa, the four best third-placed teams across the six groups are determined, in the order given, by the following criteria:

1) Higher number of points

2) Goal difference

3) Goals scored

4) Higher number of wins

5) Lower disciplinary record

6) Position in the overall European Qualifiers rankings

Confused? Don’t be, I’ll guide you through it as we go. But the basic point to remember, in this group at least, it’s (nearly) all up for grabs.

Kick-off: 8pm BST/9pm CET.

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