Taulant Xhaka

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/T.Xhaka.jpg

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/T.Xhaka.jpg

For an Albanian team that made it into the Euros against all odds, their only hope of attaining any success is through defensive midfielder Taulant Xhaka. Despite lacking world-class superstars, Albania’s style of sitting deep and scoring off long shots and set pieces has frustrated every team that has crossed paths with them, even leading them to a 1-0 away victory at Portugal. Xhaka is central to the success of this highly organized style of play because his technical skill and confidence on and off the ball can slow and stifle opposing attackers in the defensive half of the field, which then translates into the counter-attacks with the long offensive chances the Albanians so desire. While a run at the championship is highly unlikely, Xhaka’s performance in slowing down the pace of the game to suit the Albanian play style may be enough to propel his side out of the group stage, which by all metrics is a massive victory for his country.

Other Players:


Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimović

Midfielders: Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modrić, Dimitri Payet, Robbie Keane, Arda Turan

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Vlad Chiricheș, Ashley Williams

Goalkeeper: The Gianluigi Buffon


Forwards: Eden HazardJakub Błaszczykowski

Midfielders: Mesut ÖzilYevhen KonoplyankaGökhan Inler, James MilnerBalázs Dzsudzsák


“Euro 2016 Draw: Guide to the 24 Finalists in France.” BBC. 12 December 2015. http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/34496764 (accessed on 29 April 2016)

Welton, Blake. “Euro 2016 Group A Guide.” DailyPost.com. 19 April 2016. http://www.dailypost.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/euro-2016-group-a-guide-10593557 (accessed on 29 April 2016)


Written By: Austin Tran and Chris Arora


How to cite this article: “Euro 2016 Key Players to Watch” Written by Austin Tran and Chris Arora (2016), European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/european-cup-2016-guide/ (accessed on (date)).