By Martin Petty

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – Albania’s European Championship is by no means over and victory against Spain is not impossible, their Brazilian coach Sylvinho said on Sunday, as his side seek to make history at Euro 2024 and qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time.

Albania made their opponents sweat in their first two games by taking surprise early leads, including a first-minute goal against holders Italy, and they would have a shot at the next round if they pull off a shock win on Monday against a superb Spain who have already qualified.

Italy take on Croatia in the other Group B match, with an early exit still technically possible for either side.

“Many people five months ago thought that Albania would concede three or four goals and four or five in the next one, and the last match might not even mean anything,” former Arsenal and Barcelona player Sylvinho said.

“We are all really pleased to be in the Group of Death with something to play for. We’re going to go for it.”

“We’ve done everything to get here, we’ll try to do something else,” he added. “We’re dreaming and we know it’s possible. In 90 minutes anything can happen.”

A draw against Spain might also be enough for Albania to advance, but it would leave them at the mercy of the outcome of Croatia’s match with Italy – and the mind-boggling mathematics that comes with tournaments promising places for four third-placed teams.

Albania’s last and only other Euros outing in 2016 saw them exit at the group stage with three defeats and not a single goal scored. They have one point so far in Germany after their 2-2 draw with Croatia, having lost 2-1 to Italy.

Sylvinho said he was paying no attention to the complexity of the permutations, however, as playing for a draw was against his beliefs.

“When you play a game, you try to win it. Even if you’re inferior and you’re playing a wonderful team, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“If we want to get through, we need to beat Spain. It won’t be easy,” he said, adding Spain would be as tough an opponent even if they did not field their first 11 for the match, as is widely anticipated.

“We’ll give it a go. We have brave players here who are really ambitious and we’re really excited.”

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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