PARIS (AP) — The Latest from soccer’s European Championship (all times local):
Although France is favored to beat Albania at Stade Velodrome, the Albanian fans are easily winning the singing contest so far.
One side of the stadium has been turned into a red wall of noise, with Albanian fans in hearty voice.
By contrast, French fans are far quieter, and the only roar was when the players came out onto the field.
In Lens, where England and Wales will play on Thursday, a group of about 250 English fans were drinking from plastic cups and singing songs in the middle of a closed-off street leading to the entrance of the town’s Fan Zone.
Some French fans were mixing with the English, while a small number of police looked on.
There were also pockets of English and Welsh fans in various bars in the town center.
There were no signs of violence.
More sporadic violence has erupted on the side streets of downtown Lille, with a fight breaking out near a bar where English soccer fans were drinking.
Riot police made at least two arrests.
Police moved in quickly to quell scuffles. The fights involved English supporters. It was not known if other nationalities were involved.
France coach Didier Deschamps has made two changes to his lineup to face Albania at Stade Velodrome, replacing midfielder Paul Pogba and forward Antoine Griezmann with wingers Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman and switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Martial and Coman will flank center forward Olivier Giroud, while Dimitri Payet — France’s best player in a 2-1 opening win over Romania on Friday — moves across from the left of midfield into a No. 10 playmaker’s role behind Giroud.
Albania coach Giovanni De Biasi made three changes, with one of those enforced as Arlind Ajeti replaces Lorik Cana in central defense because Cana has been suspended after getting sent off in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Switzerland.
The other two changes have Andi Lila taking Odise Roshi’s place on the right flank and Ledian Memushaj replacing Taulant Xhaka in midfield.
Left back Ansi Agolli is captain in Cana’s absence.
Here are the lineups for Wednesday’s European Championship Group A match between France and Albania in Marseille:
Albania: Etrit Berisha, Andi Lila, Ermir Lenjani, Elseid Hysaj, Ansi Agolli, Ledian Memushaj, Armando Sadiku, Burim Kukeli, Mergim Mavraj, Arlind Ajeti, Amir Abrashi.
France: Hugo Lloris, Bacary Sagna, Adil Rami, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra, Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante, Kingsley Coman, Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet, Olivier Giroud.
Switzerland closed in on a spot in the next round of the European Championship with a 1-1 draw against Romania on Wednesday.
Admir Mehmedi scored a 57th-minute equalizer to ensure the Swiss have four points ahead of its final Group A match against France.
Romania took the lead against the run of play in the 18th minute when Bogdan Stancu scored with his second penalty in two games.
Although Romania hit the post through Cristian Sapunaru’s first-half shot, Switzerland had more and better scoring chances.
Romania has only one point from two matches, but should be favored to beat Albania.
Admir Mehmedi pounced on a loose ball in the area following a corner and sent a powerful drive through a packed goalmouth. Switzerland and Romania are now tied 1-1.
GOAL: Admir Mehmedi scores for Switzerland in the 57th minute. Switzerland is tied with Romania 1-1.
Germany coach Joachim Loew says he wasn’t fully aware of his actions when he was filmed with his hand down his pants during the team’s opening game of the European Championship.
Footage of Loew during Sunday’s 2-0 win over Ukraine shows the 56-year-old coach place his hand down the front of his pants before repeating the process with his hand down the back.
Loew says “naturally you do some things that you’re not aware of. I wasn’t aware of it somehow. But it happened and of course I’m sorry. You’re full of adrenalin and full of concentration and the things that happen then can’t be consciously taken as real.”
Bogdan Stancu’s second penalty in two games has given Romania a 1-0 halftime lead over Switzerland at the European Championship.
Stancu scored from the spot, just as he did against France on Friday, in the 18th minute of Wednesday’s match in Paris. The spot kick was awarded after Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner pulled Alexandru Chipciu’s shirt.
Romania defender Cristian Sapunaru’s shot then hit the post in the 28th.
Switzerland had dominated the first 20 minutes, and defender Fabian Schaer’s dipping long-range shot was sneaking under the crossbar until Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu tipped the ball over.
Switzerland forward Haris Seferovic failed to convert two early chances, carrying his wasteful form over from his team’s 1-0 win against Albania.
Police have used tear gas to disperse crowds of English soccer fans in the northern city of Lille.
Police chased large groups of English fans through the back streets around Lille’s main railway station.
A group of about 200 English fans had been getting progressively rowdier and noisier, singing songs taunting Russia, when a loud explosion was heard and some bottles were thrown.
That was followed by a large mass movement of fans chased by riot police. Police appeared to make at least one arrest, pinning a man against the ground. Police then charged, spraying tear gas in front of them as they ran.
Some bystanders took refuge in a nearby pharmacy.
Bogdan Stancu scored from the penalty spot after Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner pulled the shirt of Romania midfielder Alexandru Chipciu inside the area.
Romania leads Switzerland 1-0.
GOAL: Bogdan Stancu scores from the penalty spot for Romania in the 18th minute. Romania leads Switzerland 1-0.
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic has kept the same lineup to face Romania as started in its opening 1-0 win over Albania.
Forward Haris Seferovic will lead the attack despite strong support back home for Basel teenager Breel Embolo to play from the start.
Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu makes four changes from the team that impressed when losing 2-1 to France in the first match at Euro 2016.
Forward Claudiu Keseru plus midfielders Alexandru Chipciu, Andrei Prepelita and Gabriel Torje come in to replace Florin Andone, Adrian Popa, Nicolae Stanciu and Ovidiu Hoban.
Here are the lineups for the match between Romania and Switzerland in Paris in Group A:
Romania: Ciprian Tatarusanu, Cristian Sapunaru, Vlad Chiriches, Dragos Grigore, Razvan Rat, Andrei Prepelita, Mihai Pintilii, Gabriel Torje, Bogdan Stancu, Alexandru Chipciu, Claudiu Keseru.
Switzerland: Yann Sommer, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schaer, Johan Djourou, Ricardo Rodriguez, Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka, Blerim Dzemaili, Xherdan Shaqiri, Admir Mehmedi, Haris Seferovic.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it has summoned the French ambassador to protest the detention of Russian soccer fans in southern France.
The ministry says the decision by the Marseille prosecutor to hold the Russians for 48 hours pending investigation was “discriminatory.” It warns that “further fanning of anti-Russian sentiments over our team’s participation in the European Championship could significantly strain the atmosphere of Russian-French ties.”
The Russians were detained Tuesday near Nice as they were heading by bus to Lille for Wednesday’s match against Slovakia. Local authorities said police stopped the fans to see whether any hooligans were among them.
The French police action followed violent clashes between Russia and England fans in Marseille ahead of their European Championship opener, a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
Russia lost to Slovakia 2-1 on Wednesday.
Marek Hamsik scored one goal and set up another to help Slovakia beat Russia 2-1 at the European Championship.
Hamsik’s defense-splitting pass led to Vladimir Weiss’ first goal. He then powered in Slovakia’s second at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Russia provided little threat until Denis Glushakov headed in a late goal in the 80th.
But Slovakia held on for its first European Championship victory after losing to Wales on Saturday. Russia drew its first game with England in Group B.
Substitute Denis Glushakov headed a shot past diving goalkeeper Matus Kozacik in the 80th minute.
Glushakov, who replaced Aleksandr Golovin at halftime, scored from a chipped cross from the left by Oleg Shatov.
Slovakia still leads Russia 2-1.
GOAL: Denis Glushakov scores for Russia in the 80th minute. Slovakia leads Russia 2-1.
England captain Wayne Rooney is warning his team not be preoccupied with Wales forward Gareth Bale in Thursday’s match in Lens at the European Championship.
Speaking about the world’s most expensive player, Rooney says “it’s not England versus Gareth Bale, it’s England versus Wales.”
Bale has been a central figure in the build-up to the game, though, because of his incendiary comments, which included saying in two separate news conferences that Wales had more passion than the England and that the English “big themselves up before they’ve done anything.”
England coach Roy Hodgson rolled his eyes when asked if remarks from the Welsh camp were getting under his players’ skin, saying they were “not worthy of comment” and that “talk is talk, action on the field is action on the field.”
Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill wants his players to “bring the ugly part of the game” when they face Ukraine on Thursday at Stade de Lyon.
Both sides are without a point in Group C after Northern Ireland lost to Poland 1-0 and Ukraine fell to Germany 2-0.
“We have to be prepared to match their physicality,” O’Neill said. “What we didn’t do the other night was the ugly part of the game, and that is something that we do well. I don’t mean breaking the rules. I mean being competitive.”
Northern Ireland’s chances of advancing likely depend on a win against Ukraine because they will face World Cup winner Germany in the last group match.
O’Neill, who has led Northern Ireland to its first major tournament in 30 years, also provided some humor at his pre-match news conference on Wednesday. When player Stephen Davis was asked how it felt to be the first player at the tournament to take the newly allowed one-man kickoff, O’Neill couldn’t resist.
“We are hoping it was not the highlight of the tournament,” he quipped.
Croatia goalkeepers coach Marjan Mrmic has left the squad to travel back home after his father died.
UEFA said on its website that he is expected to return to France on Friday when Croatia takes on Czech Republic in Group D in Saint-Etienne.
Mrmic is the second member of the Croatia squad to learn about the death of his father since the tournament started. Captain Darijo Srna also traveled back to Croatia to attend his dad’s funeral following the 1-0 win over Turkey. He has since rejoined the squad.
Marek Hamsik scored one goal and set up another to give Slovakia a 2-0 halftime lead over Russia at the European Championship.
Vladimir Weiss left the Russian defense looking embarrassed by putting first-time finalist Slovakia in front in the 32nd minute after connecting with a long, diagonal ball from Hamsik.
In first-half stoppage time, Russia’s defense was again exposed as Hamsik curled a shot into the net off the inside of the far post.
GOAL: Marek Hamsik scores for Slovakia in the 45th minute. Slovakia leads Russia 2-0.
Slovakia forward Vladimir Weiss capitalized on a long pass by Marek Hamsik to give his team a 1-0 lead over Russia at the European Championship.
Coming into the area from the left wing, Weiss controlled the ball, made a quick move to wrong-foot two Russian defenders before sending his low shot past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
GOAL: Vladimir Weiss scores for Slovakia in the 32nd minute. Slovakia leads Russia 1-0.
The animals are at it again, and they say Germany will beat Poland.
Nelly the Elephant on Wednesday predicted a narrow victory for the world champions by choosing — hesitantly — to kick a ball into a goal marked with Poland’s flag, according to her keepers at the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen.
In Leipzig, a koala bear named Oobi-Ooobi chose a eucalyptus branch from a glass marked with the German flag.
Nelly correctly predicted Germany’s opening win against Ukraine. Her furry colleague, however, predicted a draw by refusing to touch either branch.
The craze for animal oracles started in earnest with Germany’s Paul the Octopus, who achieved cult status by correctly predicting eight matches at the 2010 World Cup. Other animals have struggled to achieve comparable stardom.
Russia coach Leonid Slutsky is sticking with the same lineup that earned a 1-1 draw against England on Saturday.
Russia captain Vasily Berezutsky, who scored the stoppage-time equalizer against England, leads the defense while Artem Dzyuba will play with Aleksandr Kokorin up front.
Needing a victory after its 2-1 opening loss to Wales, Slovakia will feature three new names.
Coach Jan Kozak has picked defender Tomas Hubocan, midfielder Viktor Pecovsky and forward Ondrej Duda to replace Patrik Hrosovsky, Michal Duris and Dusan Svento.
Here are the lineups for the match between Russia and Slovakia in Lille in Group B:
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Igor Smolnikov, Vasily Berezutsky, Sergei Ignashevich, Georgy Shchennikov, Roman Neustaedter, Alexander Golovin, Oleg Shatov, Alexander Kokorin, Fyodor Smolov, Artyom Dzyuba.
Slovakia: Matus Kozacik, Peter Pekarik, Martin Skrtel, Jan Durica, Tomas Hubocan, Juraj Kucka, Viktor Pecovsky, Marek Hamsik, Robert Mak, Vladimir Weiss, Ondrej Duda.
Amid fears of violence, seven arrests for public disorder were made in an otherwise calm buildup to Russia’s match against Slovakia in Lille.
The French government’s top administrator in the region, Prefect Michel Lalande says “we won the first leg, now we have to win the second.”
Lalande says those arrested included Russians, Slovaks and a woman from Ukraine. Four of them will be deported in the coming days.
Speaking in the control center for Lille’s massive security operation involving more than 2,000 officers, Lalande says a priority is to ensure that Russian fans don’t cross paths with the English fans who are coming for Thursday’s game against Wales in nearby Lens.
Lalande says “we were promised a tsunami. Nothing happened.”
Croatia captain Darijo Srna is back at the European Championship after attending the funeral of his father.
The Croatia soccer federation says Srna has returned to the team base in Deauville. Srna was accompanied by coach Ante Cacic for the funeral in Croatia on Monday.
Srna was told of his father’s death after playing in a 1-0 win over Turkey in Paris on Sunday.
He should captain the team again when Croatia plays the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne on Friday.
Srna’s 130 international appearances is a national record.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been picked for Sweden’s provisional squad for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The Swedish soccer federation announced a 35-man squad on Wednesday, which will be trimmed to 22 for Rio, where Sweden plays Nigeria, Colombia and Japan in Group B.
Sweden under-21 coach Hakan Ericson, who manages the Olympic soccer team, says the chances that Ibrahimovic will be part of the final squad are “not so great, but there is still a hope.”
The 34-year-old Ibrahimovic, currently leading Sweden’s attack at the European Championship, is one of three players over 21 allowed for the Olympic team.
Ibrahimovic left Paris Saint-Germain after scoring a career-high 38 league goals this season and is widely expected to join Manchester United.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says Moscow hopes that UEFA will give equal treatment to all those responsible for fan violence during the European Championship.
Dmitry Peskov also voiced hope Wednesday that the Euro 2016 will continue without any further “excesses.”
UEFA’s disciplinary body said Russia will be disqualified from the tournament if there is more fan violence inside stadiums in France after its fans attacked English supporters in Marseille after Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Peskov said “we hope for a fair treatment during investigation into all excesses, with equal attention given to all the parties who might have been involved.”
He added that he wouldn’t “infringe on or comment on UEFA’s jurisdiction.”
The roof of the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille will be closed when Russia plays Slovakia on Wednesday.
UEFA says a forecast for heavy rain prompted the decision to close the retractable roof before the 3 p.m. local time kickoff.
It’s not the first time a European Championship match will played indoors. Euro 2012 began in Warsaw with the National Stadium roof closed to protect the opening ceremony from a thunderstorm.
Poland coach Franciszek Smuda partly blamed “that sauna” for humid conditions after his team faded in the second half of a 1-1 draw with Greece that kicked off at 6 p.m.
The stadium in Lille previously hosted the 2014 Davis Cup final in tennis as an indoor venue.
Russia’s game against Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday is the first European Championship match not to sell all tickets.
UEFA says it has 1,100 tickets available in the top category at the 50,000-capacity Stade Pierre Mauroy.
The Category 1 tickets are listed for sale at 145 euros ($163).
The first 12 games at Euro 2016 sold all tickets available except for some seats in corporate hospitality boxes.
UEFA says it also has unsold seats for two matches in Lyon: 2,000 tickets for Ukraine vs. Northern Ireland on Thursday, and 1,000 for Romania vs. Albania on Sunday.
The total Euro 2016 capacity is 2.5 million for the 51 matches.
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