Jun. 16, 2016
Russia vs Slovakia Preview and Prediction
A do-or-die match for both teams after both had a pretty much disastrous start to the tournament. Russia played bad football vs England and were lucky to get away with a draw and Slovakia, although competed very well lost out to Wales. A loss for the Slovaks could effectively knock them out of the competition while a draw is also not very helpful. That is why both teams will approach the match in an attempt to win. Expect Russia to line up with a different mindset than the one they played England with.
By playing it safe against England they were dominated in midfield and toothless going forward. However the Russians can definitely take heart from the late equalizer and that may have just given them the necessary momentum. Despite having three out and out strikers in Artem Dzyuba, Kokorin and Smolov they did not appear threatening. 2 of them were played as wide midfielders and rarely enjoyed the ball. The midfield failed to link defense to attack and Leonid Slutsky should consider freshening it up. Perhaps the three attackers can play more as forwards with the full backs providing supports on the wings? That is certainly something that Smolnikov can do. Russia will have to persevere over the injury crisis that hit them losing some star players and for that reason may start the same team in a more attacking mindset.
Predicted Line Ups-
Slovakia will have to play Hamsik in a more advanced role if they want him to have more influence on the game and he will be their key player in deciding which way this match goes. If he can get con the ball then Slovakia are in with a chance. Dzyuba will be key and if Russia can play some good long balls into the 6'5 striker then he will win his aerial duels and score chances as well as hold the ball up. This match will be very even with both teams wanting to win and attacking. Both teams have key players and are better in certain areas but i believe they are evenly matched and will cancel each other out. However there will be a fair few goals and this will break the low-scoring trend of the euros so far! Both teams do not have the best defenses with ageing Russian and Slovakian centre backs and thus will let in goals and be exposed.
My Prediction- Russia 2-2 Slovakia
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