Euro 2020 Preview: Slovakia vs Spain: Will La Roja book a ticket to the knockout stages or will Slovakia spoil the Spanish party?
Slovakia and Spain will square off in the third and final round of the Euro 2020 group stages on Wednesday in Seville, Spain. This encounter is certain to be intense and intriguing, as both teams are one win away from qualifying for the knockout stages.
Slovakia commenced their Euro 2020 campaign on a high note, defeating Poland 2-1 in their first match. They were on a six-game unbeaten streak until matchday 2 where a decisive penalty from Emil Forsberg was enough to hand Sweden the win. Sweden’s victory over Slovakia moved them to the top of Group E, ahead of Slovakia and Spain, who are second and third, respectively.
Slovakia is on the verge of a second straight knockout stage qualification. They qualified for the knockout stages of the 2016 tournament but were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Germany. They would want to do all in their power to get a positive result against a Spanish team that has struggled to find their shooting boots in the competition.
Spain’s Euro 2020 campaign has had a rocky start, as their competition has been a tale of stalemates. With two draws in two matches, Spain has been underperforming given the weaponry in their roster compared to their fellow group opponents. Their opener against Sweden was encouraging since their play was fluid, resulting in a brilliant collective effort, but they lacked the finishing touch as they failed to find the back of the net.
Spain encountered the same issues in both matches, though they were unable to replicate the fluidity of the first 45 minutes against Poland. There was a clear directive to circulate the ball through the flanks while avoiding passing into the interior zones. It’s as if there’s was a phobia of getting dispossessed in the centre, so Spain ended up moving in a U-shape. The general consensus is that Luis Enrique’s ideas cannot be fulfilled with the present roster, especially with the lack of dribblers. Going into this matchup, there’s no margin for error for La Roja.
Slovakia will be without Ivan Schranz, who is sidelined due to an injury. Other than that, Slovakia has no major injury problems, so Stefan Tarkovic can rely on the services of all of his first-team players.
Slovakia Probable Lineup: Dubravka; Pekarik, Satka, Skriniar, Hubocan; Kucka, Hromada; Haraslin, Hamsik, Mak; Duda
Spain’s captain Sergio Busquets is back and will be available for this match after recovering from Covid-19. Luis Enrique will have a relatively full-strength team to choose from on Wednesday as they don’t have any injury issues to be concerned about.
🚨 OFICIAL | Sergio Busquets (@5sergiob) da negativo en el último test PCR realizado la noche de ayer.
➡️ Se unirá hoy a la concentración de la selección nacional y viajará a Sevilla.
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) June 18, 2021
Spain Probable Lineup: Simon; Llorente, Laporte, Torres, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Pedri; Torres, Morata, Olmo
Slovakia will take a defensive strategy to this encounter against Spain. And the man in charge of Slovakia’s defensive line is none other than Milan Skriniar. The Inter Milan defender’s leadership is what distinguishes him the most. He’s always raising his arms and issuing commands. He not only makes others more focused, but he also makes them better.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 14, 2021
He instills confidence and self-assurance in his teammates by assuring them that no matter what occurs, their leader would be there to fix it. And that’s exactly what he’d want to accomplish on Wednesday, showing incredible tenacity on the defensive end.
With two draws in a succession, Spain hasn’t had a significant difference-maker in the offence who can get the job done. Dani Olmo is an outstanding talent with a really high ceiling, but the 22-year-old has failed to make an impact owing to Spain’s failure to find the final decisive pass. Every time he has received the ball, it has been in an overly static situations and hence has been unable to generate dynamic advantages, which are his strongest suits.
There is no disputing his talent, and he would want to flip the tables against Slovakia if the squad as a whole plays well and feeds him the ball where he can flourish the most.
Both teams have no room for mistake and will bring their A-game to this encounter. Spain will have to make important tactical alterations since dynamics matter the most in these tournaments, whilst Slovakia will play the game on the back foot and will rely on pure defensive grit as they have in their previous Euro 2020 encounters.
FootTheBall predicts Slovakia 0-2 Spain