23 June, 2021


The euphoria of Slovakia’s opening-day win was punctured somewhat by their defeat to Sweden on Matchday 2, but Štefan Tarkovič’s side are second in the table and still have their fate in their own hands.

Victory in this fixture would send them into the round of 16, or a draw might also be enough depending on results elsewhere. Spain present a considerable hurdle though, and after two draws, most recently against Poland, La Roja need all three points to be sure of a ticket to the next stage.

Group E

PlayedWonDrawnLostForAgainstGoal differencePoints

Possible line-ups

Slovakia: Dúbravka; Pekarík, Šatka, Škriniar, Hubočan; Kucka, Hrošovský; Haraslín, Hamšík, Mak; Duda
Misses next match if booked: Dúbravka, Duda, Hubočan, Weiss

Spain: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Pau Torres, Gayà; Llorente, Busquets, Thiago; Gerard Moreno, Morata, Traoré
Misses next match if booked: Pau Torres, Rodri

Reporters’ views

Rastislav Hríbik, Slovakia reporter: Losing to Sweden has put Slovakia in a tough spot: they require at least a point in Spain to have a realistic chance of progressing, but the players are ready to fight and know that the national team have been in this situation before. At the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2016 they needed a result in their final group games to get through; against Italy and England respectively, they did it. Is a third ‘miracle’ in the offing?

Graham Hunter, Spain reporter: It’s going to be a nervous finish. One of Spain’s main sports papers reckons there will be a number of changes for Wednesday’s game in Seville, with at least Sergio Busquets, César Azpilicueta and Mikel Oyarzabal coming into the team. Whether Luis Enrique is thinking along the same lines is a different story. The same paper suggests Spain are in the middle of a “crisis of confidence”. That’s not far from the truth.

View from the camps

Štefan Tarkovič, Slovakia coach: “Sweden and Poland were the favourites in our matches against them, but Spain are top favourites and not only in our group but in the whole tournament. We must prepare well for the match. I still believe we can be successful.”

Luis Enrique, Spain coach: “Slovakia make it very hard to score against them, and a draw would also take them through. They’re very difficult to break down through the central channel because they crowd that area with lots of players. This match is going to be trickier than most people expect. We have had nothing but complications in our first two matches and we are going to be facing very similar complications again. But we’re ready.”

Tomáš Hubočan, Slovakia defender: “There will be huge drama in our group. There are lots of permutations before the final games. It will also be really interesting for the fans and I’m sure they will enjoy such a close finish. I would be very glad to beat Spain again as we did in 2014 in Žilina, to be able to feel that euphoria again on Wednesday.”

César Azpilicueta, Spain defender: “The team have lots of hunger to get on with winning against Slovakia. We wish we’d got more points. That’s not the reality of the situation, but it’s crucial in football to depend on yourself. We’re at home, it’s like a knockout game, and there are things we are doing well but other aspects we know we must improve.”

Published under Promotion on 23 June, 2021.

Latest update on 11 July, 2021.