With the 2016 Euro Cup well underway, there are a few teams that have shocked the world with their performances thus far — among them are Albania and Wales.
The 2016 Euro Cup marks the first international football tournament appearance for the Albanian national team. The team qualified for the tournament in October of 2015 in a 3-0 victory over Armenia.
Albania suffered for years under a dictatorship as a destitute country. Its football team reflected this unfortunate state of the country as the team was never a threat in the international world of soccer. Just qualifying for the Euro Cup lifted the spirits of Albanians across the country.
In 2011, the Albanian teamed hired Gianni De Biasi, an Italian soccer coach. Since then, De Biasi has only done positive things for the Albanian team and continues to improve.
Albania’s qualifying group for the tournament consisted of Portugal, Denmark, Armenia, and Serbia. The Albanians began with an upset in a 1-0 win over Portugal. They moved on to tie with Denmark at home. That match was followed by a game against Serbia, Albania’s biggest rival. The match had to be cancelled because of violence caused by the emotional fans. A Court of Arbitration for Sport was called in for a decision. The Court ruled that the Serbs’ violence caused the cancellation as they over reacted to a pro-Albanian flag being flown above the stadium. Therefore, Albania was awarded a 3-0 win. Albania would go on to lose the following match to Serbia in a 2-0 defeat at home. Albania won one of their four remaining games and with perseverance and hard work made it to the Euro Cup.
The Albanian people are standing unified with pride rooting for the team that represents their country.
Albania was in third place in Group A among France, Switzerland, and Romania, but was knocked out of the Euro Cup 2016 on June 23. Regardless of the loss, they have won hearts across Europe with their extraordinary run.
Wales is another team staging an impressive performance. The Euro Cup 2016 is the Wales football team’s first international tournament since the FIFA World Cup in 1958.
On June 20, Wales upset Russia with a 3-0 victory. The win secured them a top spot in Group B, atop England, Slovakia, and Russia.
Welsh Gareth Bale, who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid, has netted three goals in three matches, the most goals among all players in the tournament.
Wales will be facing the third place team of either group A, C, or D in the next round.