The UEFA Euro 2016 will be Albania's first major tournament (they have never qualified before to a World Cup or European Championship) even though they had a promising 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
Despite being one of the founding members of UEFA(1954), their first participation in a Euro Cup competition was in 1962. This was the only time when Albania was between the best 16 teams of the Continent (they Albania got past Greece and at the end of the tournament Albania ranked 9th in Europe)
In the qualifiers of the UEFA Euro 1968 Albania had a draw 0–0 against West Germany that denied the Germans the participation to the UEFA Euro 1968 finals.
Albania missed the UEFA Euro 1972, UEFA Euro 1976 and UEFA Euro 1980 qualifiers for political reasons. They had some forgettable qualifiers until 2004, when they started making an impact, first
beating 3–1 Russia at Loro Boriçi Stadium.
In the qualifiers of the UEFA Euro 2008 Albania won two times in both matches against Luxembourg. Albania also drew 2–2 with Belarus and 0–0 away with Bulgaria. Albania's Euro campaign ended with a loss 6–1 away to Romania which resulted in the resignation of the coach Otto Barić and his assistant.
Italian coach Gianni de Biasi was appointed and Albania made an impact in the Word Cup qualifiers. Albania was at one point, 2nd in group with six matches played, and four in hand, but failed to be successful in the last four, losing away in Slovenia and Iceland, as well as at home against Switzerland, and drawing in Cyprus.
Albania road to Euro 2016
Albania was part of group I along with Portugal, Denmark, Serbia and Armenia. They managed to finished second place behind Portugal and somewhat surprisingly in front of Denmark and their rivals Serbia.
Thanks to the second-placed finishing they achieve automatic qualification alongside Portugal. They finished with 14 points with four wins, two draws and two losses with two points separating them from third placed Denmark.
Albanians also benefited from a ruling from the Court of Arbitration of Sport after their match with Serbia was abandoned. Players were attacked by Serbian home supporters that invaded the pitch. UEFA ruled that with the game was forfeited by Serbia and awarded a 3-0 win to Albania.
The complete table:
- Serbia was penalised with -3 point because of incidents that happened in the game against Albania.
The results obtained by Albania:
||0 - 1||Albania
||1 - 1||Denmark
||0 - 3||Albania
||2 - 1||Armenia
||0 - 0||Albania
||0 - 1||Portugal
||0 - 2||Serbia
||0 - 3||Albania
Albania Euro 2016 squad and group
(Confirmed 23-man squad)
Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha (Lazio), Alban Hoxha (Partizani), Orges Shehi (Skenderbeu)
Defenders: Lorik Cana (Nantes), Arlind Ajeti (Frosinone),
Berat Gjimshiti (Atalanta), Mergim Mavraj (Koln), Amir Rrahmani (Split), Elseid Hysaj (Napoli), Ansi Agolli (Qarabag), Frederic Veseli (Lugano), Naser Aliji (Basel)
Midfielders: Ledjan Memushaj (Pescara), Ergys Kace (PAOK), Andi Lila (Giannina), Migjen Basha (Como), Odise Roshi (Rijeka), Burim Kukeli (Zurich), Ermir Lenjani (Nantes),
Herolind Shala (Slovan Liberec), Taulant Xhaka (Basel), Armir Abrashi (Freiburg)
Forwards: Bekim Balaj (Rijeka), Sokol Cikalleshi (Medipol Baksasehir), Armando Sadiku (Vaduz),
Milot Rashica (Vitesse), Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids)
Albania is part of group A at the European Championship. They will face Romania, Switzerland and the hosts France.
Albania will play against Switzerland in the first round, they last times the two teams met were in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers when Switzerland won in both matches, first 2-0 at home and then 2-1 in Albania.
The second game will be against the home the Euro hosts France. The two teams met recently in 2014 and 2015 in international friendlies, surprisingly Albania coming out on top, winning one encounter, the one in 2015 with 1-0, and the one in 2014 the two teams draw 1-1.
Their third game will be against Romania, who they haven't beaten since 1948 when they played in the Balkan Cup. In the most recent encounters there were two 1-1 draws in 2010 and 2011 in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. The last time the two teams met was in 2014 in an international friendly, which finished 1-0 for Romania.
Albania All Time Records
The top 5 players with the most appearances:
The top 5 players with the most goals: