Euro 2016 favourites France take to the field for their second game of the tournament against minnows Albania while Russia face Slovakia and Romania battle Switzerland on Wednesday.
France will be at full strength when they get proceedings underway in the late game and will be looking to build on their 2-1 success in the opening match against Romania. Albania, for their part, have Lorik Cana out due to a suspension, while Ergys Kace is doubtful with a knee injury.
Strangely, it is Albania who have come off better when the sides have gone head-to-head in recent years. The minnows managed a 1-1 draw with their illustrious counterparts back in 2014 and also upset Les Blues 1-0 last year.
‘There’ll be a great atmosphere, the crowd will be really fired up. This is a proper stadium. The new Velodrome is synonymous with a proper football atmosphere. It’s always great to come back.’ France coach Didier Deschamps told Uefa.
Albania coach Gianni De Biasi will be hoping to make full use of their familiarity with the hosts.
‘We know France well. They’re playing at home and will be driven on. We’ll try to limit as much as possible some of their play and try to break when we get the chance.
‘France are one of the best sides in the world,’ De Biasi said.
The match will be played at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille. Kick-off is at 21:00 on Wednesday.
The early fixture on Wednesday will see Russia take on Slovakia.
The sides last met in a friendly fixture back in 2014, in which the Russians ran out winners. Both sides will be hoping for better in their second round match, with Slovakia having lost narrowly to Wales, while Russia were lucky to escape with a point following a late draw against England.
Each side has been crowned European Champions once in their history, though Russia achieved the feat as part of the Soviet Union, while Slovakia’s triumph came when the country was still part of the old Czechoslovakia.
‘I would not say we are favourites in this match – we need to play the way we did against England. I don’t think it will be any harder but I know it won’t be easier either. Every team in this group still has a chance of getting through,’ Russia coach Leonid Slutski told Uefa.
Slovakia coach Jan Kozak added: ‘The Russian team is made up of players who play for teams like Cska Moskva and Zenit, who regularly play in the Uefa Champions League. They have improved under Slutski and are very well organised, with good transition from defence to attack and vice versa.’
The match will take place at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille. Kick-off is at 15:00.
Completing the trio of matches is Romania’s clash with Switzerland.
The sides have gone head-to-head on 12 occasions in the past, winning five apiece and drawing two. Romania will be looking to turn things around having conceded a last ditch goal against France in their opening game, while Switzerland edged 10-man Albania 1-0 in their first match.
Neither side faces any injury problems heading into the crucial clash.
‘Romania could have beaten France, so we need to improve on our own below-par performance against Albania. Basically, we need to extend what we did in the first 20, 30 minutes against Albania to the whole 90 minutes,’ Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic told Uefa.
‘It’s an extremely important game for us and for Romanian football. After the France match, the first problem for our team was physical and mental recuperation. We hope we can be physically prepared for this one,’ added Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu.
The match will take place at the Parc des Princes, Paris. The game gets underway at 18:00.