Defending champions Italy have been handed a difficult task at Euro 2024 by being drawn into the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’.
The 2020 winners, who beat England on penalties in the final at Wembley, will now have to fight their way past Spain and Croatia to avoid an early exit from Group B.
Albania are the fourth and final team in the group, but emerged from Pot 2 thanks to their impressive qualifying performances, finishing top of their group ahead of Czechia and Poland.
The opposite can be said of Italy, who have just moved into second place in England’s qualifying Group C.
Nonetheless, the final Euro 2024 group contains the sixth, seventh and eighth highest ranked teams in Europe, according to FIFA.
This should lead to an incredibly close showdown in Germany next year, with five titles in the group, including three for Spain in 1964, 2008 and 2012, and two for Italy in 1968 and 2020.
Croatia, meanwhile, remains one of the toughest tasks in international football despite the age of many players.
The Luka Modric-led team reached the final of the 2018 World Cup and then finished third in the 2022 tournament.
There could also be a score to settle between Italy and Spain, with the latter team demolishing the Italians 4-0 in the 2012 final.
Either way, between these footballing giants, Albania will certainly be the underdog, and fans will be on the lookout for the nervous face of Sylvinho on the sidelines, the former Arsenal and Manchester City defender now coaching the team.
Most read in the European Championship
Another candidate for a potential second Group of Death is Group D, but that remains to be settled with Wales, Finland, Poland and Estonia battling for the final spot.
Whoever emerges from the play-offs will be faced with the terrifying task of taking on giants France and the Netherlands, with in-form Austria also a difficult task.