Date: Wednesday, 15th June, 2016
Time: 14.00pm BST
Venue: Grand Stade Lille Métropole, Lille
Russia and Slovakia meet in Lille to kick off the second round of group games in a game that has interest to English and Welsh fans but perhaps not highly-anticipated by the rest of Europe.
Leonid Slutsky’s side stole a point in stoppage time versus England to put them in an excellent position to progress from Group B – something they have done only once in four previous European Championships and never in three World Cup tournaments since the break up of the Soviet Union and CIS.
Slovakia made their European Championship debut with a 2-1 loss to Wales and defeat to Russia today would put them on the brink of elimination with only England left to play.
Goalkeeper Matus Kozacik didn’t come off looking good after conceding a fairly central Gareth Bale free kick in a game that Wales were largely on top. The newcomers offered little threat to the Wales goal aside from a nice goal on the hour and Marek Hamšík’s excellent run that ended with a shot cleared off the line by Ben Davies in the opening minutes of the game.
Russia also offered little threat in their game with Artem Dzyuba stuck in Chris Smalling’s pocket for the entirety of the game. Maybe the target man will have better luck versus Martin Skrtel today. Neither winger, Aleksandr Kokorin or Fyodor Smolov offered much despite Danny Rose giving the latter a lot of space down Russia’s right wing. However, Slovakia’s defence is even worse than England’s so you’d expect the Eastern Europeans to threaten more in this game.
Their own goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, was largely at fault for conceding Eric Dier’s free kick that was quite central with a large gap in the wall for him to get a good sight of the ball. Otherwise he was well-protected, aided by England’s poor production in the final third.
This is a game that neither team can afford to lose but a win would be excellent – for Russia it should be enough to send them into the second round regardless of their result against Wales in the final group game.
Russia vs Slovakia: Team News
Russia Team News
Leonid Slutsky could name an unnamed lineup from the team that drew 1-1 with England as Russia have no new injury concerns. Roman Neustaedter made his debut in that game. Georgi Shchennikov is the only player who would miss the final group game with a yellow card in this game.
Slovakia Team News
Defenders Tomas Hubocan remain a doubt for Jan Kozak’s side after missing the first game. Norbert Gyomber should be ready to start if called upon. Slovakia had a whole host of players who picked up a yellow card in their opener – captain Martin Skrtel, Juraj Kucka, Patrik Hrošovsky, Robert Mak and Vladimír Weiss.
Possible Starting Lineups
Russia predicted XI: Igor Akinfeev; Igor Smolnikov, Sergei Ignashevich, Vasili Berezutski, Georgi Shchennikov; Roman Neustaedter, Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksandr Kokorin, Oleg Shatov, Fyodor Smolov; Artem Dzyuba
Slovakia predicted XI: Matúš Kozacik; Peter Pekarík, Martin Skrtel, Jan Durica, Duasn Svento; Juraj Kucka, Patrik Hrosovsky, Robert Mak, Marek Hamsik, Vladimir Weiss; Adam Nemec
0 – Russia did not allow England striker Harry Kane a single touch in their own penalty area in their opening game.
13% – Russia have kept only two clean sheets in their past 16 games at European Championships finals.
52 – Slovakia’s Ondrej Duda scored after only 52 seconds after coming on – the fastest goal at a European Championship by a substitute since Juan Carlos Valeron for Spain against Russia in 2004 (39 seconds).
Prediction: Russia 1-0 Slovakia