Euro 2020: Can Slovakia make the knock-out stage for a second consecutive time?

Veteran playmaker Marek Hamsik will be once again pivotal to Slovakia's chances at Euro's along with Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar.

Slovakia can be ruthless on their day. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Slovakia will be making their second consecutive appearance in the European championship since becoming an independent nation in 1993. Former Napoli star Marek Hamsik will have the task of leading an ageing team in his third appearance at a major tournament. Meanwhile, they qualified for the finals via play-offs, beating Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Former assistant coach of the national team, Stefano Tarkovic took charge of them in last October.

Slovakia qualified for their first major tournament in the 2010 World Cup. Where they upset the defending champions Italy 3-2 before losing to finalists Netherlands in the last 16. After an impressive debut in the World Cup, they made it to the finals of Euro 2016 and beat Russia in the group stage courtesy of a stunning goal from Hamsik and then held England to a goalless draw.

The Sokoli qualified for the last 16 as one of the four best third placed teams in the group stage. But were beaten by Germany in the knockout stage. After the Euro’s Slovakia had a downfall and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and had a patchy European qualification but eventually qualified through the Nations League play-off route.

After overcoming Republic of Ireland on penalties in the semi-final play-off, head coach Pavel Hapal was sacked and in came Tarkovic for the final play-off match against Northern Ireland. Slovakia overcame Northern Ireland courtesy of an extra time goal by Michal Duris. Under Tarkovic’s reign they defeated a strong Russian side 2-1 in the World Cup qualifiers.

Key players and how they could line-up

Attacking midfielder, Hamsik, who was handed the national teams captaincy at the age of 22, is going to be the fulcrum to their plans. He is their top scorer(26) and most capped(126) player. The 33-year-old playmaker, after a 11-year stint at Napoli left for Chinese club Dalian in 2019 but returned to Europe and joined IFK Gothenberg in March to get some game time before the Euro’s. But because of injuries he didn’t make too many appearances in the Swedish League.

Central defender Milan Skriniar is the other big name in the squad. The 2021 Serie A champion is coming into the tournament on the back of an impressive season with Inter Milan. The 26-year-old was a pivotal member of Antonio Conte’s side and will be hoping to continue the good form with the national team. He will have the task of providing some extra cover to an ageing defence that includes 35 year-old left back Thomas Hubocan and 34-year-old right-back Peter Pekarik.

Slovakia are likely to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Hamsik taking the role of the attacking midfielder to supply quality balls for pacey wingers Robert Mak and Michael Duris. 21-year-old Feynoord player Robert Bozenik might be deployed as the striker. Meanwhile Jan Gregus and Juraj Kucka could be the holding midfielders and Newcastle United’s Dubravka will be the goalkeeper.

Slovakia are placed in Group E of Euro 2020 and will open their campaign against Poland on June 13 before facing Sweden and Spain on June 18 and 23 respectively. Making through to the knockout stages will be considered as a very good performance from them.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Martin Dubravka (Newcastle), Marek Rodak (Fulham), Dusan Kuciak (Lechia Gdansk)

Defenders: Peter Pekarik (Hertha), Lubomir Satka (Lech Poznan), Denis Vavro (Huesca), Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan), Tomas Hubocan (Omonoia), Jakub Holubek (Gliwice)

Midfielders: Marek Hamsik (IFK Goteborg), Stanislav Lobotka (Napoli), Patrik Hrosovsky (Genk), Juraj Kucka (Parma), Ondrej Duda (Koln), Robert Mak (Ferencvaros), Vladimir Weiss (Slovan Bratislava), Laszlo Benes (Augsburg), Lukas Haraslin (Sassuolo), Tomas Suslov (Groningen), Matus Bero (Arnhem), Erik Jirka (Mirandes)

Forwards: Michal Duris (Omonoia), Robert Bozenik (Feyenoord), David Strelec (Slovan Bratislava)




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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