FC Daily: Can Albania stop France, Dimitri Payet? Russian fans in focus
It's Wednesday, June 15, and Euro 2016 rolls on while the Copa America group stage has been completed. FC Daily takes a look at the big stories and what you need to know.
Matches of the day
- Russia vs. Slovakia (3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET, ESPN): It is sad that the buildup to this important Group B encounter has been about the Russian fans rather than the game itself. With reports of clashes in Lille between English, Welsh and Russian supporters, this could force UEFA to throw Russia out of the tournament. Russia coach Leonid Slutsky will try to keep his team focused on the game itself, but they will be up against a gritty Slovakia team who almost took a point off Wales in their opening game. With England going up against Wales a day later, this game presents both nations with the golden opportunity of getting their first three points on the board to keep their qualification hopes alive.
- Romania vs. Switzerland (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN): Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic has tipped his charges to make history at Euro 2016 and appear to be playing Wednesday's opponents Romania at the perfect time. All does not seem will in the Tricolorii camp, with manager Anghel Iordanescu hitting out at claims by the media that substitute Denis Alibec was smoking in the dressing room before he was substituted onto the pitch in their loss to France.
- France vs. Albania (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN): Didier Deschamps knows a second win will be enough for France to progress through to the Round of 16, but will he make a brave decision and drop either Antoine Griezmann or Paul Pogba? With Albania coach Gianni De Biasi admitting that his team are ready to play a defensive game and frustrate the French, the fresh legs of Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman could prove to be the difference in Marseille. But then again, French magician Dimitri Payet is on hand to save the day if things go awry.
Three key points
1. Cristiano Ronaldo's "small mentality" comment after Iceland's historical 1-1 draw with Portugal would not have bothered the 330,000 Icelandic supporters who celebrated their country's first-ever match, point and goal at a major international tournament. For all Portugal's dominance throughout the game, it was Iceland who showed they are not in France just to make up numbers, and their fairytale rise in European football shows no sign of stopping at the moment.
2. Meanwhile the first major shock at the Euros occurred. Dark horses Austria lost to Hungary 2-0! Austria boss Marcel Koller said he was unsure if "nervousness" had prompted the loss, while Hungary coach Bernd Storck was in dreamland: "You can see how the fans reacted -- that was brilliant. A dream has come true. We hoped for it, we wished for it..."
3. Argentina and Chile both produced commanding wins in their final group games at the Copa America. Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez combined well to help the defending champions easily account for Panama 4-2 in Philadelphia, while Gerardo Martino was able to ease Leo Messi back into action with a 45 minute cameo in Argentina's 3-0 win over Bolivia.
Player of the day
Anyone who knew little about Payet would probably have learnt all about him after his sensational winner in France's 2-1 victory over Romania, which opened the Euro 2016 tournament in style.
The West Ham United star outshone Les Bleus teammate Paul Pogba in that game and Payet will be keen to put on a show against Albania, especially with the game played at the Stade Velodrome, his old stomping ground with Marseille.
Peter Thorne reckons Slaven Bilic must cringe every time Payet surges towards goal at this tournament because it will be a tough task keeping him as a Hammer if he continues to dazzle for France.
Stat of the day
Nani's 31st minute goal for Portugal was the 600th goal in European Championship history- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 14, 2016
Tweet of the day
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.