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EURO 2024 Preview: Can Arsenal-Linked Forward Lead Serbia to Success?

Slovenia at EURO 2024: A Comprehensive Preview

Slovenia’s Emergence on the European Stage

As the footballing world turns its eyes towards EURO 2024, Slovenia stands out not merely as participants but as a team laced with potential. Despite their underdog status, they are bolstered by the presence of some of Europe’s finest talents including Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeping stalwart Jan Oblak and the much sought-after RB Leipzig forward, Benjamin Sesko. This will be Slovenia’s first appearance at the European Championship finals in 24 years, adding a layer of historic significance and anticipation.

Guiding Force: Coach Matjaz Kek

The architect behind Slovenia’s recent successes is Matjaz Kek. His second tenure as head coach has seen the team qualify for the Euros, a feat that eluded him in his earlier stint. Beginning in 2007, Kek led Slovenia to the 2010 World Cup but departed in 2011 after failing to qualify for EURO 2012. His return in late 2018 marked a period of rebuilding, culminating in a promotion in the Nations League in 2021 and securing a spot at EURO 2024. Kek’s tactical nous, particularly his use of a flexible 4-4-2 formation, has revitalized Slovenia’s gameplay, enabling them to leverage their squad’s strengths optimally.

Key Players to Watch

Benjamin Sesko: Slovenia’s Rising Star

Benjamin Sesko, at just 21 years old, is already a household name among football fans, particularly those following the German Bundesliga. After his move from Red Bull Salzburg to Leipzig, Sesko endured a challenging start but found his form towards the season’s end, impressing with 18 goals across all competitions. His physical presence and pace make him a formidable force upfront for Slovenia.

Photo: IMAGO

The Quiet Achiever: Adam Cerin

Lesser-known but equally vital is Adam Cerin, a creative midfielder playing for Greece’s Panathinaikos. Cerin’s vision and ability to create opportunities have been pivotal in Slovenia’s qualification campaign, making him a player to watch at the tournament.

Tactical Insights and Squad Strengths

Slovenia’s reliance on a seasoned goalkeeper like Oblak provides them with a solid defensive foundation. His shot-stopping ability will be crucial as Slovenia faces tough opponents in a challenging group. The team’s recent performances, including notable victories over Portugal and the USA, underscore their ability to score goals while maintaining a disciplined defensive structure.

The partnership of Sesko with Andraz Sporar has yielded significant dividends, supported by Cerin’s creative prowess. This trio will be central to Slovenia’s strategy at EURO 2024.

Potential Challenges Ahead

Despite their strengths, Slovenia faces considerable challenges. The team’s lowest ranking within their group at 57th globally highlights the uphill battle they face. Their qualification success, impressive as it was, included mixed results against top teams like Denmark and Finland, indicating potential vulnerabilities.

Additionally, much will depend on young Sesko, whose debut at a major international tournament carries immense pressure. Slovenia’s ability to transcend their underdog status will hinge on how these young talents adapt to the high stakes of tournament football.

Closing Thoughts

While expectations in Slovenia are tempered by the recognition of their tough group, there is a quiet optimism based on their strong qualifying performance. The nation hopes for a more memorable campaign than their debut in 2000, where they failed to progress past the group stages. With a blend of experienced and emerging talents, Slovenia is poised to make their mark at EURO 2024, potentially surpassing expectations and captivating football fans across Europe.

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