Euro Team Preview - SLOVAKIA

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Round of 16 2016 
2016 Euros
Round of 16

Slovakia's Euro Schedule

Date Fixture Location
14th June 5pm Poland v Slovakia St Petersburg
19th June 2pm Sweden v Slovakia St Petersburg
23rd June 5pm Slovakia v Spain Seville
Click here to read a full Group E preview

Road to the Euros

If any team could be said to have reached the Euros the hard way, then it would be Slovakia. In the tightest qualifying group of all that saw all teams taking points off each other, Slovakia finished just one point behind second-placed Wales, and the same narrow margin above fourth-placed Hungary. That was enough to earn them a playoff place courtesy of their Nations League standings, and again the progress could not have been tighter. A goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland was decided in their favour after a nerve-jangling penalty shootout,  and they then broke more Irish hearts by overcoming Northern Ireland with an extra-time winner.

Current form

Just one win in six Nations League games saw Slovakia finish bottom of their group and relegation to League C next year. A more encouraging start to their World Cup campaign in March saw them share drawn points with Cyprus and Malta, before stepping up their game to grab an eye-catching 2-1 win over Russia. They extended their unbeaten start to 2021 with a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria at the beginning of June, followed by a goalless draw with Austria - not bad results in isolation, but Slovakia will have to find a victory from somewhere if they are to emerge from this difficult group.

Squad assessment

Slovakia are a team with low expectations who will need to play to the strengths they have, while also recognising their limitations. Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is likely to be busy behind an organised back four, with defensive midfielder Patrik Hrosovsky unlikely to venture too far into the opponents' half very often. If the Slovakian defence is given some respite, then left-back David Hancko could offer an extra attacking dimension down the flank to support Duda and Hamsik, who will be the source of most of Slovakia's creative intent. With the likelihood of just one player up top, Ivan Schranz and Robert Buzenik will both be hoping for the nod ahead of their opener against Poland.

Key players

No-one will expect Slovakia to progress to the knock-out stages, which gives their players limited opportunities to make a mark on the tournament. Hancko and Duda might have time to make an impact during the group games, but the standout player who should catch the eye is Marek Hamsik, who will be involved in most set pieces, and should be Slovakia's best source of any attacking threat in the final third.

Click below to read more about each of Slovakia's Group E opponents:

Spain, Poland, Sweden