Neither side performed particularly well in their opening game as the two nations look to turn their Euro 2016 campaigns around in the second round of matches at Euro 2016.
Euro 2016 is heating up as Russia face Slovakia in an all-important Group B tie at the State Pierre Mauroy in Lille.
Russia rescued a point in their Group B opener against England where they spent the majority of the game on the back foot. After unsavory scenes outside and inside e the stadium in Marseille between fans, skipper Ignashevich rescued Slutsky’s men in added time with a looping back post header.
Sbornaya’s Euro 2016 preparations were given a near cataclysmic blow when it emerged that leading midfielders Alan Dzagoev and Igor Denisov had been ruled out the tournament. In the 1-1 draw with England in their opening game Russia’s bright spot was the strong and effective center forward Artem Dzyuba who caused a lot of problems.
Russia should remain unchanged with Smolov and Neustaedter in the middle of a 4-2-3-1. Kokorin offered attacking intent on the right wing against England and will hold into his spot. Experienced center back pairing Berezutski and goalscorer Ignashevich will continue as well.
Slovenia meanwhile were unlucky to leave their Group B match up with Wales without anything to show for it in a 2-1 defeat. After going a goal behind in the first half they rallied to pull level through the introduction on Ondrej Dud but were left heart broken when they conceded a second with little time left.
The likes of Juraj Kucka, Martin Skrtel, Vladimir Weiss, Robert Mak and Patrik Hrosovsky all picked up yellow cards against Wales, meaning that they should be very cautious in the second group game. Ondrej Duda came as a substitute in the 2-1 loss to Wales, the 21-year-old midfielder scored the equalizer and he is widely expected to return to the starting XI. Coach Jan Kozak has no fresh injury worries and is expected to play the same 4-2-3-1.
Star man Marek Hamsik thought he had opened the scoring following a brilliant run, only to be denied by a great block by Ben Davies.
“I thought I’d scored with my move at the start of the match,” confessed Hamsik.
“Straight after that, Gareth Bale showed his qualities with a free kick goal. We dominated the match in the second half, but were unable to score a second goal. We pressured Wales and created several chances. I don’t know if we can talk about luck for Wales, but it was above all a balanced encounter,” Hamsik said.
Russia has played a total of eight games against Slovakia. Their head to head record is all-square with each team having won three games apiece.
The team last met in the run up to the 2014 World Cup. Alexander Kerzhakov scored an 82nd minute winner for Fabio Capello’s Russia in St. Petersburg. Previously the sides met in qualification for Euro 2012 where both sides managed away wins in the two fixtures. Alan Dzagoev and Miroslav Stoch scored for their respective sides.
Slovakia were unbeaten in their three Euro 2106 warm up games. Most notably the defeated World Champions Germany 3-1 in Augsburg via goals from Hamsik, Duris and Kucka.
Russia was unable to muster a victory in either of their two Euro 2016 warm up games after a defeat against Czech Republic and a draw against Serbia.
Slovakia finished 2nd in their qualification group. Only 5 points behind holders Spain who they famously beat 2-1 in Zilina in October 2015 where former Chelsea reserve Miroslav Stoch emerged from the bench to seal an unlikely victory in the 87th minute. Key man Marek Hamsik chipped in with 5 goals as qualification was secured with a 4-2 victory over Luxembourg.
Russia won their last four group games and finish second in group G. Albeit a massive eight points behind table toppers Austria they still managed to edge past Sweden who finished two points behind them in third. Key Man Artyon Dzyuba top scored for the Russian with 8 goals in qualification.
Russia: Akinfeev, Shchennikov, Berezutski, Ignashevich, Smolnikov, Smolov, Neustaedter, Kokorin, Shatov, Shirokov, Dzyuba.
Slovakia: Kozacik, Svento, Durica, Skrtel, Pekarik, Kucka, Hrosovsky, Mak, Hamsik, Weiss, Nemec.
Russia 0 – 0 Slovakia – 7/1
Russia 2 – 1 Slovakia – 17/2
Russia 0 – 3 Slovakia – 40/1
Martin Skrtel to score a header – 22/1
Dzyuba to score a Hat Trick – 50/1