By Rafaela Prifti/
The sporting event known as UEFA EURO is held every four years since 1960 in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments. On Sunday, the soccer matches of Albania and Kosovo respectively in Groups H and A of the 2020 European Football Championship ended scoreless for the home teams. BBC reported that the World champions France completed their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a comfortable victory over Albania to ensure they finish as Group H winners. France required a win to confirm top spot ahead of runners-up Turkey and remain in contention to be one of the top seeds at next summer’s tournament.
Whereas England wrapped up their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a comfortable win in Kosovo with the help of 3 late goals.
Albania was already out but the players did not disgrace themselves in this qualifying campaign, although they could only manage a 2-2 draw at home to Andorra on Thursday. Coach Edoardo Reja switched to a 3-1-4-2 system against Andorra though he was expected to choose something more defensive against the World Champions. The newly inaugurated stadium Air Albania hosted the visiting team France, which is the two-time winner of the title. France’s win places it at the top of the group, two points ahead of Turkey with eight wins from 10 matches – their single draw and defeat both coming against the runners-up. France’s place as a top seed at Euro 2020 is not yet confirmed, and one of Germany, Spain or France will miss out in that regard. Six of the 10 qualifying group winners who earn the most points will be top seeds for next summer’s tournament, with results against sixth-placed teams excluded in the larger groups and goal difference used if teams are leveled on points. The Kosovo match received much attention and was covered widely as an historic sporting event for the new country. Here are some of the comments as reported by media:
There had been such a warm reception for England with the slogan of “Welcome and Respect” but it was a bit too welcoming and respectful from Kosovo in the way the opening goal was allowed. Whatever the legitimate concerns for England in defense and midfield, one thing was for certain: they scored goals and plenty of them. To be relatively subdued and to strike four times away from home shows a threat to any opponent and they were utterly ruthless in front of goal as they inflicted a first home defeat for Kosovo since they were officially recognized.
In doing so England ended 2019 as not just the top-scorers in qualifying for Euro 2020 but with 38 goals in the calendar year – their second highest number ever. Captain Harry Kane became the first England player to score in every game of a qualification campaign.
Thirty-seven goals in eight qualifiers speak to the weakness of a group in which England have ended with a sequence of thumping wins: 6-0, 7-0 and now 4-0. There are still justifiable questions over how they will fare against stronger opposition.
In fairness having been smothered with kindness by the Kosovo nation, who wanted to show their gratitude for Britain’s role in ending the brutal struggle with Serbia, there was an edge taken from the game which had been diminished a little anyway because the hosts had already blown their chance of automatic qualification and must now go through the play-offs. The Kosovans held up cards with their flag on one side and the St. George’s flag on the reverse during the national anthems and there was a series of tributes and thanks prior to kick-off. This was such a wonderfully anticipated contest for Kosovo, with 800,000 applying for the 17,000 tickets that sold out in less than 11 minutes, crashing the website, and were changing hands for up to €300(£252)s – with a face value of €20 for the best seats.t