Spain are heading for a nervy final match in Group E with Luis Enrique’s men still needing a win against Slovakia to guarantee qualification to the last-16 of EURO 2020.
The 2008 and 2012 winners of the competition are still without a win having drawn their opening two matches of the tournament. A deeply frustrating goalless stalemate to Sweden was followed up by an equally as vexing 1-1 draw to Poland to leave Enrique’s men on two points with one group match to go.
The extra incentive for Spain, if qualifying for the next round isn’t important enough, will be to prove former Dutch icon Rafael Van Der Vaart wrong after he publicly slammed the Spanish national team. The ex-Tottenham man labelled their style of play “horrible” in a recent interview which caused both Sergio Busquets and Koke to angrily defend themselves.
They’ll undoubtedly be fired up, but Spain simply have to improve on their first two performances to avoid the unthinkable scenario of exiting at the group-stage.
Slovakia v Spain
UEFA EURO 2020 Group E
17:00 ITV / ITV Hub
(Maximum 10 matches)
SEP 2015 EURO 2016 QUALIFYING Spain 2-0 Slovakia
OCT 2014 EURO 2016 QUALIFYING Slovakia 2-1 Spain
NOV 2006 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING Slovakia 1-1 Spain
NOV 2005 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING Spain 5-1 Slovakia
SEP 1997 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING Slovakia 1-2 Spain
NOV 1996 FRIENDLY Spain 4-1 Slovakia
It won’t be an easy task for the Spaniards, though, as Slovakia also need a result to assure a place in the knockout rounds.
Stefan Tarkovic’s men got off to a flying start at EURO 2020 with an impressive 2-1 win over Poland; an own-goal from Wojciech Szczesny and a thunderbolt strike from Milan Skriniar enough to see off Paolo Sousa’s side.
However, they failed to build on that strong start and were edged out 1-0 by Sweden through an Emil Forsberg penalty in a fairly flat performance.
This, much like Spain, means this is a high-pressure game for Slovakia. Three points may be enough to get them through, but a stalemate against Enrique’s men in the final group game would absolutely guarantee a spot for Sokoli in the next round.
I expect a defence-minded performance from Slovakia as they pursue that draw and, given Spain’s struggles in front of goal so far this tournament, I am not anticipating a thrilling, high-scoring affair. It is hard, however, to imagine Spain not finding a way through to the knockout stages so Spain and Under 2.5 Goals looks like the play here.
PROFIT/LOSS (EURO 2020): PROFIT 9.11 points