Slovakia and England will play their final group game against each other at St.Etienne on Monday to decide who books their place in to the next stage and who could potentially miss out on progression.
Slovakia, who are currently third in the group with three points on board, thanks to a crucial win in their previous game against Russia. A win against England will definitely see them finish in the second spot (on head to head record), while a draw will make things interesting and the top two places will largely hinge on the outcome of the other encounter between Russia and Wales. This, being the final game, and the fact that they are still in with a shout for finishing second at least, one can expect them to give it their all – which will make for a blood and thunder event which usually suits them down to the ground.
It looked like all of Gareth Bale’s talk was actually justified when the Welshman struck a 35-year free kick past Joe Hart, much to the anguish of the English supporters. But inspired substitutions from Roy Hodgson ensured a dramatic win late in stoppage time, courtesy of a Daniel Sturridge strike from tight angle, amidst a crowd of red shirts in the box. This will certainly leave the manager with selection dilemma going into this pivotal clash against Slovakia, where a win would ensure top spot – something they should be doing in fairness – in a relatively straight forward group.
Norbert Gyombér remains a minor doubt with injury and Jan Kozak has no fresh injury concerns or players suspended.
Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could be replaced in the starting line-up by Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge in the final group game against Slovakia. But knowing Roy Hodgson as we do, he might as well field an unchanged XI in the final group game.
Kozacik – Hubocan, Durica, Skrtel, Pekarik – Hrosovsky, Kucka – Weiss, Hamsik, Mak – Nemec.
Hart – Rose, Cahill, Smalling, Walker – Dier, Wilshere, Alli – Rooney – Sterling, Vardy.
- England and Slovakia had met on three occasions and the Three Lions hold a 100% win record after winning all three.
- The last meeting between the sides was in a friendly on March 2009 at the Wembley Stadium, England under Fabio Capello winning 4-0 on that occasion, with Rooney scoring two of those goals.
- The other two meetings were in the Euro 2004 qualification fixture, England won both home and away leg by the same 2-1 scoreline.
Marek Hamsik – Slovakia
Hamsik, being Slovakia’s most important player, will be satisfied with his influence on the side so far – especially after the man of the match performance in their previous game against Russia. Martin Skrtel, one of Slovakia’s senior players said of the Napoli play-maker,
“He showed how important he is for our team and he showed his quality. Not only that he scored, but in all the 90 minutes he was working for the team. He did great and he is very important for us. We just hope and believe that he can carry on playing like this in the next game.”
If they are to have a chance against England, it’s imperative Hamsik has a similar impact on the game like he did in the last round.
Kyle Walker – England
He may not be the leader, but Walker is the best full-back England have got at the moment. He has been quietly impressive in both games in the Euros, having successfully translated his Spurs form into the championships – which some of his other teammates could not, yet. His energy and decision making in the right flank, will prove to be very crucial, if England are to make a statement by winning their final group game and finishing top of the group on Monday.
The result against Wales and the manner in which they fought till the end should give Roy Hodgson’s side a lot of confidence now – which should be enough to edge the game on Monday. Would not bet against another Vardy goal from the bench.
Slovakia 0-1 England