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Croatia, Albania meet looking for first win at UEFA Euro 2024 on TSN

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After suffering losses in their opening games, Croatia and Albania will meet in a Group B clash that will be critical if either team still has hopes of advancing to the knockout stage at UEFA Euro 2024.

Catch Croatia vs. Albania LIVE on Wednesday with coverage getting underway at 8:30 a.m. ET/5:30 a.m. PT on TSN1/4, streaming on the TSN App and on TSN.ca.

Nedim Bajrami made history for Albania in their tournament opener when he collected an errant throw-in from Italy left back Federico Dimarco and fired it into the net just 23 seconds into the contest.

The 25-year-old’s marker was the fastest goal scored in the European Championship’s 64-year history and staked Albania to a shock 1-0 lead over Italy.

Unfortunately, an upset was not on the cards. Italy equalized 10 minutes later and had a lead they would not relinquish at the 16-minute mark of the opening half.

“To score for Albania in the European Championship for me was a dream,” said Bajrami. “I dreamed this like a kid, and I worked hard for this. I didn’t know that I scored the quickest goal in [Euro] history, but I need to keep going. In the coming days we need to prepare for the Croatia game.”

Despite the fact that Italy controlled the play, finishing with 66 per cent possession, Albania was able to stay in the game and even had a late chance through Rey Manaj that flashed across an open goal but did not find the target.

"The fans were incredible, inside and outside the stadium,” said Albania head coach Sylvinho. “It's a shame we couldn't get an equalizer [against Italy]. If we hadn't conceded the second goal, we'd have been well placed to hit them on the counterattack."

Unlike Albania, Croatia had the majority of the possession in their opener, but were not able to make it count as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Spain.

After withstanding an early barrage from their opponents, Croatia was working their way into the game when they conceded the opening marker in the 29th minute.

Things went from bad to worse when they gave up two more goals before getting to the locker room for halftime.

Bruno Petkovic won a penalty for Croatia in the 78th minute, but Spain’s keeper Unai Simon made the save and a rebound goal was ruled out for encroachment on the initial shot.

"We are analyzing Albania, and we will look at what we need to do while being aware that this is a crucial match for us that we have to win, and that our opponents have confidence after a good performance against Italy,” said Croatia’s head coach Zlatko Dalic. “They took the lead in the first minute and they put up a good fight. Another difficult match and a tough fight is ahead of us, but we are used to that. The Croatian fans will surely not leave us hanging – they will stand with us in Hamburg as well.”

Croatia has reached the knockout stage of the past two European Championships, falling in the Round of 16 to Portugal in 2016 and Spain in 2020, with both matches needing extra time.

Albania was eliminated in the Group Stage of UEFA Euro 2016, the only other time they have qualified for the tournament.

This will be the first meeting between Croatia and Albania.