*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
Slovakia reached the last 16 at both World Cup 2010 and Euro 2016 but qualifying from a group of Spain, Poland and Sweden does seem like a tall order. As at both of those tournaments, Slovakia will still be reliant on star playmaker Marik Hamsik for creativity and guile in attack.
Poland – Saint Petersburg, Russia: Monday, June 14, 5pm
Sweden – Saint Petersburg, Russia: Friday, June 18, 2pm
Spain – Seville: Tuesday, June 23, 5pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Slovakia overcame a rocky qualification campaign to beat Northern Ireland in a play-off to qualify for only the third major tournament in their history.
Finishing third in their group behind Wales and Croatia saw them head to the play-offs. They scraped past the Republic of Ireland on penalties after an unconvincing performance in a 0-0 draw before heading to Windsor Park. A goal in extra time from Michal Duris secured a 2-1 victory and their place at finals.
The build up to the Northern Ireland game was overshadowed by the sacking of their manager Pavel Hapal despite edging past the Republic. Slovakia had a poor start to their Nations League campaign and the the Slovakian FA were understandably unimpressed by being dominated for long stretches by Stephen Kenny’s side. Into the breach stepped assistant manager Stefan Tarkovic who was part of the coaching team for Slovakia’s successful Euro 2016 campaign.
Slovakia’s formation is certainly more likely to resemble a 4-5-1 than a 4-3-3 as they sit back and look to frustrate more talented opposition. This should be aided by Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka who is a solid Premier League goalkeeper and in Milan Skriniar Slovakia possess one of the best centre halves in Europe. In midfield, Hamsik, who now plays in Sweden, will provide guile and technical ability in possession. Ondrej Duda of FC Koln and the veteran Juraj Kucka of Parma are both useful players with an eye for goal from midfield. However, one of those two may be forced to play as a makeshift striker such are Slovakia’s dearth of options at that position.
Milan Skriniar. A mainstay of an outstanding Inter Milan defence under Antonio Conte that romped to Serie A victory, Skriniar has understandably been linked with the Premier League elite after establishing himself as one of the best defenders in Italy. For Slovakia to have any hope of progression to the last 16, Skrinar will need to be at his absolute best.
ONE TO WATCH
Ondrej Duda. Slovakia aren’t exactly brimming with candidates here, however, even though Norwich fans may not remember him too kindly, Duda is starting to establish himself as a decent goalscoring midfielder in the Bundesliga. The 26-year-old scored 11 league goals for Hertha Berlin in 2018/19 and after a difficult 2019/20 campaign, has bounced back this season with seven league goals in a struggling Koln side.
Here’s all the key data on Slovakia’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
They will hope to sit back and grind out a 1-0 win over either Sweden or Poland with Skriniar and Dubravka at the fore. One win would probably see them through to the knockout stages but that seems unlikely given the serious limitations of this squad.
This looks to be a very fair price as I struggle to see them troubling Sweden or Poland, not to mind Spain.
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