Three-time Euro Champions Spain face 2nd placed Slovakia in the last round of the group stage. Spain is currently placed 3rd and has won just 2 points in 2 matches at this year’s Euros.
Slovakia won their opening match of the tournament but were handed a 2-1 defeat by Sweden on the 18th. Meanwhile, Spain have been disappointing in the Euros and haven’t won a single match yet. It’s quite shocking to see Spain struggling even with so much talent in their squad.
It remains to be seen if Štefan Tarkovič can pull one over Luis Enrique and kick the former champions out of the tournament. Spain have a lot of work to do before their match against Slovakia.
Analysis- Slovakia vs Spain
Slovakia will be using their tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation against Spain in the final match of the group stage. The Slovaks though not known for their offensive flair, have a strong backline. The Slovaks ability to absorb the pressure and hold out until the end might be the key against Spain.
Manager Štefan Tarkovič will be tempted to park the bus against struggling Spain since a draw would see them through to the next round. The team’s 6 matches unbeaten run across all competitions was broken by Sweden on the 18th. The team might be lacking confidence against mighty Spain.
Slovakia are yet to lose back-to-back games under Tarkovič who took charge in 2018. During his tenure he has lost only 2 matches, with the last loss coming against Sweden in their last game.
Meanwhile, Spain have been lackluster and out of luck this tournament. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Poland in their last fixture, only due to the Polish defenses heroics. Even in the first match of the tournament they were held to a goalless draw by group leaders Sweden.
The La Roja are now 9 matches unbeaten in all competitions after their draw against Poland. But the team Spanish team would have had enough with the draws and will be going for all 3 points this game to ensure qualification. They will be using their 4-3-3 formation against the Slovaks.
When and Where?
The location of the fixture is the La Cartuja Stadium in Seville, Spain on 23rd June at 9:30 pm.
Team News and Injuries
The Slovaks will be without the services of centre-forward Ivan Schranz who is out due to an injury. They will be without Denis Vavro, the centre-back is currently isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.
Predicted line-ups: Dúbravka; Pekarík, Šatka, Škriniar, Hubočan; Kucka, Hrošovský; Haraslín, Hamšík, Mak; Duda.
The La Roja have no injury concerns and manager Luis Enrique can count on his entire squad for this match. Barcelona star Sergio Busquets has also returned and will be available. He had tested positive for Coronavirus before the start of the Euros and had been self-isolating.
Predicted Line-ups: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Pau Torres, Gayà; Llorente, Busquets, Thiago; Gerard Moreno, Morata, Traore.
Head to Head: Slovakia vs Spain
The last encounter between these two teams was in 2015 in a European Championship qualification tie. Spain won the match 2-0 with goals from Barcelona due Jordi Alaba and Andres Iniesta.
These two teams have faced each other 6 times in total in the past and Spain have been the dominant side. The La Roja have won 4 of those matches and 1 draw. They have also won all three of their previous matches on home soil against Slovakia.
Slovakia Form: W-D-D-W-L ( all competitions)
Spain Form: W-W-D-D-D (all competitions)
Thoughts on the fixture of Managers
“Sweden and Poland were the favorites in our matches against them, but Spain are top favorites and not only in our group but in the whole tournament. We must prepare well for the match. I still believe we can be successful.”– Štefan Tarkovič, Slovakia coach.
“The team have lots of hunger to get on with winning against Slovakia. We wish we’d got more points. That’s not the reality of the situation, but it’s crucial in football to depend on yourself. We’re at home, it’s like a knockout game, and there are things we are doing well but other aspects we know we must improve.”– César Azpilicueta, Spain’s defender.
How can Slovakia and Spain qualify?
If Slovakia wins against Spain their qualification is confirmed. Their position will depend on the match between Sweden and Poland. If Sweden draws the match then they would finish first, and 2nd if Sweden win.
If they draw against Spain then they could finish anywhere between 1st to 3rd. A Poland loss or tie would see them finish 2 and they could be headed to a three-way tie if Poland wins. A loss against Spain would be dangerous for the Slovaks. They could finish 4th if Poland wins but a loss or tie would mean they would still have a chance to qualify.
A win against Slovakia would result in qualification for Spain. If Sweden loses they would finish 1st and 2nd if they lose, a tie would lead the decision to be made by the goal difference.
A draw against Slovakia would be problematic for Spain. If Poland wins they would be eliminated and a draw or loss would mean they could qualify as one of the third best place teams. But a loss would lead to direct elimination.
12th Man Prediction: Slovakia 0 – 1 Spain
We predict a 0-1 victory to Spain. The Spanish might have struggled but they have the talent and the firepower to qualify for the Round of 16. It would only be a confidence issue for Spain otherwise they are the clear favorites for this tie. Slovakia could try to push for a draw and park the bus. At the end it would come down to Spain’s attacking 3 to get the job done.