Do Scotland or Slovakia really care about this game at all? Both have just secured massive Euro 2021 playoff wins and surely come into this game off the back of massive hangovers. For Scotland, there is almost an incentive to lose this game. A win will secure their promotion to the top tier of the Nations League; something that has proved catastrophic for the likes of Iceland.
Scotland are playing well at their level now but will be routinely torn asunder if they gain promotion and it could easily stunt the progress they have made under Steve Clarke.
Slovakia, meanwhile, desperately need a win to avoid relegation to the third tier of the Nations League, but their prospects still look bleak even if they do manage to secure the three points on Sunday.
However, with Milan Skriniar and Stanislav Lobotka back in the core of their team, Slovakia are a different team to the one that lost in Scotland last month and they should have just about enough to keep their survival hopes alive.
Nations League: Slovakia v Scotland, Sunday 2pm
Sky Sports Football
Neither Scotland nor Slovakia have been setting the world alight in front of goal this year, despite their successful play-off campaigns. Yes, Slovakia scored twice against Northern Ireland, but one came courtesy of a defensive howler, while the other came directly after a freak deflection off Jonny Evans. Their only other shot on target was a weak effort straight into the arms of Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Against Ireland, it was a similar story. They managed just two shots on target in 120 minutes and didn’t look capable of scoring if the played for another two hours. Scotland, meanwhile, have managed to score more than one goal on just one occasion this year – against a second-string Czech Republic squad thrown together at the last moment because of a COVID-19 crisis.
They have scored just four goals in their other five games this year, but they have managed to shore up the defensive frailties that had plagued them for years. Scotland have only conceded three goals in their six games so far this year and will prove a tough nut to crack.
It seems like both teams are far more capable at the back than they are going forward and they could very easily cancel each other out.
Selecting a likely goalscorer when both sides struggle so badly in front of goal is no easy task, but Michal Duris – Slovakia’s extra-time hero against Northern Ireland – is one of the best bets to do so. The 32-year-old should be relatively fresh from Thursday night, having only come on as a second-half substitute against Northern Ireland, and there is an excellent chance that he will start up top on Sunday.
He has scored two of Slovakia’s six goals this year and took his goal on Thursday extremely well, firing past Peacock-Farrell before the Burnley ‘keeper had a chance to set himself properly. With chances likely to be few and far between, it could take a similar moment of quick-thinking to break the deadlock against Scotland.
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