UEFA EURO 2016: Under Fire Russia Face Minnows Slovakia [MATCH PREVIEW]
With a late draw in their opening outing against England last Saturday, Russia have silenced some critics who have questioned their ageing defence as they face Slovakia in their second round in Euro 2016.
Russia are on precarious ground, with UEFA issuing a suspended disqualification order if Russian fans are involved in mob violence.
Russia captain Vasili Berezutski, who scored the equaliser, will be banking on the likes of AleksandrKokorin and Artem Dzyuba to deliver.
A win at Lille would go a long way in guaranteeing promotion into the round of 16, especially this time around when the top four teams in third will join the rest of the pack in the next round.
This is the ninth time these two countries face each other with Russia winning 3 against Slovakia’s 2 wins.
Zenit St Petersburg striker Artem Dzyuba will continue up front but more will be expected from Aleksandr Kokorin. Leonid Slutsky knows his squad is a limited one but will be confident they can secure the victory that could all but seal their progression.
Slovakia have their work cut out for them, after a gutsy performance against Wales. They need to convert any opportunities they get.
Marek Hamsik is the key man in midfield and unlike against Wales, where he dropped too deep to collect the ball, has to move further up front to orchestrate the play in front of the base of the opposition penalty box.
Ondrej Duda and Robert Mak both impressed as substitutes against Wales and will be hoping to have done enough to secure starting berths.