Euro 2016 Group B

Slovakia

11 June - Wales (5pm GMT, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
15 June - Russia (2pm GMT, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille)
20 June - Wales (8pm GMT, Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse)

Slovakia make their first appearance as an independent nation. Gaby McKay weighs-up their prospects.

Slovaks make their debut

Since the breakup of Czechoslovakia, the smaller half half have failed to qualify for the European Championships on five occasions. However, inspired by five goals from captain Marek Hamsik, the Slovaks came second behind Spain in Group C, beating Vicente Del Bosque’s men in Žilina in the process.

Coach: Ján Kozák — Known for his association with Košice, where he’s had seven spells as a player and Coach, Kozák took over in 2013. Took Košice into the Champions League group stage in 1997-98, where they faced Juventus and lost twice.

Preferred XI: Kozáčik; Pekarík, Škrtel, Hubočan, Gyömbér; Kucka, Pečovský; Duda, Hamsik, Weiss; Vittek

Look out for: Marek Hamsik’s attacking role. The captain plays further forward than he does for Napoli, and was Slovakia’s top-scorer in qualifying. Expect a narrow 4-2-3-1, with Hamsik behind Robert Vittek.

Did you know?

  • This may be Slovakia’s first appearance at the Euros, but they reached the Last 16 in World Cup 2010, beating Italy 3-2 in their final group game.
  • When Czechoslovakia won the 1976 tournament, the starting line-up contained eight Slovaks, including the entire defence.
  • Slovakia’s first international was in 1939, a 2-0 win over Germany. Their first since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia was a 1-0 win over the UAE in Dubai.

Slovakia versus…

…Wales P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 F 7 A 6
…Russia P 8 W 2 D 3 L 3 F 6 A 7
…England P 3 W 0 D 0 L 3 F 2 A 8

Stats

Population: 5.4m
Nickname: Repre, Národný tím
Calcio fans might remember… Vratislav Greško - Inter (2000-2002), Parma (2002-2003)
Top Division: Slovak Super Liga
FIFA World Ranking: 32
International honours: European Championship (1976, as Czechoslovakia)
Most capped player: Miroslav Karhan (107)
Leading international scorer: Robert Vittek (23)

Slovakia at the European Championships:

1996 - Did not qualify
2000 - Did not qualify
2004 - Did not qualify
2008 - Did not qualify
2012 - Did not qualify

How they got to Euro 2016: Runners-up in Group C, behind Spain and ahead of Ukraine.