Competition: European Championship
Fixture: Russia v Slovakia
Date: Wednesday, June 15
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Villeneuve-d’Ascq
Kick off time: 6:30 pm, local tie
Russia and Slovakia will go head to head in an intense battle, in the Group B of the Euro Cup 2016 on Wednesday.
Russia’s form: D-D-L-L-W
Any team which scores a goal in the extra time to either equalize or to win becomes a legend in their own way. This is what happened in their opening match against England a few days back. Being the underdogs against the mighty English attack, the odds weren’t in their favor as they came in the match. However, they held on to their nerves through the better half of the game, preventing the Three Lions from breaking through their defensive wall. Igor Akinfeev had a busy night as the goalkeeper for his team, as his experience from 88 caps proved to be highly useful.
During the second half, Leonid Slutsky’s talk to the player appeared to appeared to work well for them, as the team began to increase their possession and began creating chances. Fyodor Smolov came incredibly close to scoring one, but the ball flew just few inches wide of the crossbar. After being 1-0 down in the 73rd minute, all was seem lost for them. However, in the dying moments of the game, they got a corner kick on which Vasili Berezutski capitalized and took his side to a well earned draw.
Russia played with their usual formation 4-2-3-1, which seemed to work well for them. While their opponents came close on a couple of occasions to score, it was the lack of carelessness from the English forwards which prevented them from incurring a humiliating loss.
Slovakia’s form: L-D-W-W-D
This tiny European nation came in the tournament sailing high on confidence, after finishing second in the qualifiers. Qualifying for the first time in 20 years, this was definitely a historic moment for Slovakia.
Jan Kozak has made all the difference to this side as the manager, who was appointed back in 2013, after the nation failed to qualify for the major tournaments. Beating the likes of Spain in the Qualifiers and proceeding to defeat the mighty Germans in the friendlies, Slovakia are a side who are not meant to be taken lightly.
Their opening match against Slovakia showed just that, as they dominated the possession by 54%. However, they were a bit off when it came to attempting to score, as they had six shots off target. When Gareth Bale gave an early lead to Wales, 21 year old Ondrej Duda was brought substituted in during the second half. Having scored a terrific goal just moments later, they were revitalized and were looking mighty strong to go the distance. The momentum was swinging between the two sides, but it was Wales who got the victory by 2-1 in the end.
Slovakia have shown that they are capable of retaining the possession and create chances during the course of the game. What they lack is a little bit of discipline. The side also lacks experience, but they play with a lot of vigor with nothing to lose, which has been the reason for their tremendous form this season.
Key Players and Team News:
Russia: Akinfeev will have to play an important role in this match as well, seeing that Slovakia are capable of breaking through the defense. Needless to mention, the other pillars of defense will have to do their part here as well. Seregi Iganshevich and Berezutski bring in a massive amount of experience from their 200 caps combined, which their defense needs desperately.
Pressure will be on Aleksandr Kokorin and Fyodor Smolov too, in order to create chances for their team and give them the much needed win here.
Slovakia: Kozak’s gamble on giving Marek Hamsik a free role in the team has paid off. Being the most experienced member of the team with 88 caps, his presence in the midfield is certainly crucial, alongside with Robert Mak and Miroslav Stoch. Mak gave the assist to Duda in the previous game, and Kozak will be hoping for similar results here as well. Defensively speaking, they need Martin Skrtel and Jan Durica to hold the fort, as the Liverpool and Lokomotiv Moscow defenders are highly skillful in this aspect of the game.
Betting Tips & Advice:
Both the teams are fond of playing the 4-2-3-1 formation, and given their recent forms, they are on a level playing field. Russia have got themselves a lot more experienced squad than their opponents, which gives them the edge here. However, Slovakia are capable of creating troubles for the opposing defenders. Slovakia are at the bottom place in the table, and a win or a draw here will make things slightly better for them. A draw seems to be most probable outcome here at 9/4 odds.