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Balkan clash: Croatia and Albania meet for the first time at Euro 2024

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Balkan clash: Croatia and Albania meet for the first time at Euro 2024
Sport

Sport

Balkan clash: Croatia and Albania meet for the first time at Euro 2024

2024-06-19 02:54 Last Updated At:03:00

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Croatia faces Albania in their second match in Group B. Both teams lost their opening matches and can’t afford another defeat if they want to keep hope alive of advancing from the group stage. The match starts at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) in Hamburg. Here’s what to know:

— The two Balkan teams have never met in a competitive match before. Albania is playing in only its second European Championship after qualifying for the tournament in 2016.

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Croatia's Nikola Vlasic is tackled by Portugal's Joao Palhinha during an international friendly soccer match between Portugal and Croatia at the National Stadium in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Pedro Rocha)

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Croatia faces Albania in their second match in Group B. Both teams lost their opening matches and can’t afford another defeat if they want to keep hope alive of advancing from the group stage. The match starts at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) in Hamburg. Here’s what to know:

Spain's head coach Luis de la Fuente gives instructions during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Spain defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Spain's head coach Luis de la Fuente gives instructions during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Spain defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Croatia players block a free kick during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Croatia players block a free kick during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Italy' fans celebrate at the end of the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Italy won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Italy' fans celebrate at the end of the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Italy won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Albania's head coach Sylvinho applauds supporters at the end of a Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

Albania's head coach Sylvinho applauds supporters at the end of a Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

Albania's Arber Hoxha is chased by Italy's Alessandro Bastoni and Italy's Bryan Cristante, right, during the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Albania's Arber Hoxha is chased by Italy's Alessandro Bastoni and Italy's Bryan Cristante, right, during the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Croatia's Luka Modric controls the ball during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Croatia's Luka Modric controls the ball during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

— Luka Modric’s Croatia is looking to rebound from a confidence-bruising 3-0 loss to Spain in the group opener. Croatia is expected to control the game while Albania relies on its robust defense and quick counterattacks.

— Albania stunned defending champion Italy with an early goal but conceded two goals later in the game in the 2-1 loss on June 15.

— Albania faces disciplinary charges for the behavior of its fans in the first game. UEFA says that included a “provocative message” allegedly displayed by fans, the throwing of objects, use of fireworks and a field invasion by a fan near the end of the game.

— Croatia midfielder Nikola Vlasic has withdrawn from the tournament because of a muscle injury. He didn't play against Spain and didn't take part in practice this week.

— Albania coach Sylvinho on Tuesday said his squad was injury-free, with all players available for the match against Croatia.

— Both teams are treating the match as crucial for their ability to advance from the group stage.

— Croatia had 54% possession in its first match against Spain, becoming the first team to hold the ball more than Spain in a competitive match since 2008. Croatia completed 528 passes to Spain’s 392.

— Albania’s Nedim Bajrami scored against Italy after just 23 seconds, the fastest goal in the history of the European Championship.

— Croatia forward Andrej Kramaric will celebrate his 33rd birthday on the day of the match.

— “For me, personally, it’s a dream come true to play in front of that many Croatian fans at a major tournament. It was beautiful. I can only promise that we’ll give our best in the next games, and fight for our country.” – Croatia midfielder Lovro Majer about the support of Croatia fans in Germany.

— “We are not going to underestimate our opponents. We are in a ‘group of death’ and we know it is going to be hard to go through. Croatia are a tough team but we are preparing to give it our best.” – Albania defender Mario Mitaj.

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Croatia's Nikola Vlasic is tackled by Portugal's Joao Palhinha during an international friendly soccer match between Portugal and Croatia at the National Stadium in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Pedro Rocha)

Croatia's Nikola Vlasic is tackled by Portugal's Joao Palhinha during an international friendly soccer match between Portugal and Croatia at the National Stadium in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Saturday, June 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Pedro Rocha)

Spain's head coach Luis de la Fuente gives instructions during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Spain defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Spain's head coach Luis de la Fuente gives instructions during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Spain defeated Croatia 3-0. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Croatia players block a free kick during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Croatia players block a free kick during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Italy' fans celebrate at the end of the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Italy won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Italy' fans celebrate at the end of the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. Italy won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Albania's head coach Sylvinho applauds supporters at the end of a Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

Albania's head coach Sylvinho applauds supporters at the end of a Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

Albania's Arber Hoxha is chased by Italy's Alessandro Bastoni and Italy's Bryan Cristante, right, during the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Albania's Arber Hoxha is chased by Italy's Alessandro Bastoni and Italy's Bryan Cristante, right, during the Group B match between Italy and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Croatia's Luka Modric controls the ball during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Croatia's Luka Modric controls the ball during a Group B match between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Two-time World Series MVP Corey Seager has been named to the American League All-Star roster as a replacement for injured Minnesota shortstop Carlos Correa, giving the reigning champion and host Texas Rangers a third player in Tuesday night's game.

Correa was held out of Minnesota's 3-2 loss at San Francisco on Sunday after undergoing an MRI which revealed plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Correa is still expected to attend the All-Star activities in Arlington, Texas.

Seager, going to his fifth All-Star Game, will join Texas second baseman Marcus Semien and reliever Kirby Yates on the AL squad for Rangers manager Bruce Bochy. Semien is replacing Houston’s Jose Altuve as the AL's starting second baseman.

Altuve will sit out the game to rest his left hand, which has been sore since he was hit by a 94.3 mph slider from Minnesota’s Josh Winder on July 5.

Seager is hitting .270 with 18 homers and 48 RBIs. He has now been an All-Star in each of his three seasons since signing a $325 million, 10-year deal with the Rangers after the 2021 season.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

Texas Rangers' Corey Seager watches his two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

Texas Rangers' Corey Seager watches his two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

Texas Rangers' Corey Seager, right, celebrates after his two-run home run with Marcus Semien during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, July 12, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Texas Rangers' Corey Seager, right, celebrates after his two-run home run with Marcus Semien during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, July 12, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

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