Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Preview: Slovakia vs. Romania – prediction, team news, lineups – Sports Mole


Slovakia's Ondrej Duda scores their first goal on June 26, 2024© Reuters

The Romania fans have turned up in their thousands to watch their side’s final Group E game with Deutsche Bank Park littered with yellow shirts but, despite finding themselves level at half time, their side have been far from at their best in the opening 45 minutes.
Slovakia came flying out of the blocks applying plenty of pressure on the Romania defence, eventually finding the opener thanks to Ondrej Duda‘s header from a deep cross into the box, something Edward Iordanescu‘s men have struggled with thus far.
Romania were not behind for long though as Ianis Hagi was brought down inside the box with a VAR check awarding a penalty, and Razvan Marin made no mistakes as he excellently dispatched into the top left corner.
While the game is all-square going into the final 45 minutes, Romania will need to be much improved if they want to guarantee their place in the next round of the tournament with Slovakia looking likely to win this game if everything stays the same in the second half.

In the most hotly-contested group at Euro 2024, third-placed Slovakia are set to face leaders Romania on Wednesday in Group E at Deutsche Bank Park in each side’s final group stage game, and the winner could qualify for the knockout rounds in first place.
All four teams in the group have three points after the opening two group games, although Slovakia and Romania did lose last time out against Ukraine and Belgium respectively.

Ivan Schranz (Slovakia, 26) Cheering after the goal on June 21, 2024 [IMAGO]© Reuters
For the first time at the Euros, all four teams in a single group are on equal points after two matches with three points.
This is the third consecutive Euros tournament that Slovakia have qualified for, and in the 2020 iteration of the competition, they were knocked out at the group stage with three points.
The Falcons opened their group-stage campaign with an impressive victory against Belgium, who despite their struggles of late still have a talented squad featuring players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Amadou Onana.
However, having lost to Ukraine 2-1 last Friday after originally taking the lead in the 16th minute, the Falcons must now at least draw on Wednesday if they are to realistically progress in the competition.
In order to qualify for the round of 16 via finishing in the top two, Slovakia must beat Romania, and they will finish first if they win and Ukraine do not beat Belgium.
David Hancko celebrates scoring for Slovakia in September 2023© Reuters
Alternatively, if they lose to Romania and Belgium avoid defeat, they will be unable to reach the round of 16.
Manager Francesco Calzona has led the team since August 2022, and although he failed to win any of his first five games, he has since overseen a period of largely positive results which includes 10 wins in the last 15 games.
In fact, in their qualifying campaign for Euro 2024, Calzona’s side lost just twice in their 10 matches, both times against Portugal.
As for their recent form heading into the game on Wednesday, although they lost last time out on Friday against Ukraine, they did go unbeaten in the prior four fixtures, a run that saw them win three times.
Slovakia have only conceded two goals at Euro 2024 so far and if they manage to keep a clean sheet today then this will represent their best record in the group stages at the Euros after conceding three as an independent nation in 2016 and the same total as Czechoslovakia in 1980.
Opponents Romania will finish in the top two and qualify for the round of 16 if they avoid defeat on Wednesday, and they will win the group if they win and Belgium do not defeat Ukraine.
Switzerland's Zeki Amdouni in action with Romania's Radu Dragusin on June 19, 2023© Reuters
However, they will be unable to reach the round of 16 if they lose and Ukraine avoid defeat.
Romania lost 2-0 to Belgium on Saturday, and while they did have moments of good play, it is fair to say that there was a significant quality gap on display.
The Tricolours failed to qualify for Euro 2020 but manager Edward Iordanescu, who has been in charge since January 2022, oversaw a period of excellent results that helped his team qualify for the tournament in Germany.
In fact, Romania qualified for Euro 2024 in impressive style, topping their group ahead of the likes of Switzerland, while also going unbeaten and conceding just four goals in 10 games.
However, their form coming into the tournament was not ideal considering they failed to win any of their four games prior to the start of the competition.
Romania coach Edward Iordanescu reacts on June 22, 2024© Reuters
Despite this, it should be noted that they have only lost once in the 15 games prior to the beginning of Euro 2024 and conceded just nine goals in that time.
In the tournament itself, their victory against Ukraine was an excellent counter-attacking display in which they were able to absorb Ukrainian pressure before playing directly and purposefully towards the final third.
Should Romania qualify for the round of 16, it will be the first time they have managed to escape the group stages since they reached the quarter-finals at Euro 2000.
Interestingly, Romania’s loss to Belgium represents their joint largest defeat at the Euros alongside their 2-0 loss to the Netherlands in 2008, though more positively, if they manage to score at least once against Slovakia then they will match their best group stage goal return of four that they achieved at Euro 2000.
Additionally, they also managed to set a new record with their 3-0 victory against Ukraine last week on Monday as it was their biggest ever win at the Euros.

Romania's Bogdan Racovitan, Andrei Ratiu and teammates celebrate after the match on June 17, 2024© Reuters
Slovakia have no injury concerns to contend with heading into the match on Wednesday, and it would be a surprise to see manager Calzona make any changes to the team that lost to Ukraine.
In fact, Calzona named the same XI in both matches at Euro 2024, so it is expected that he continues with the same lineup.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is certain to start, while the defensive line will be marshalled by captain Milan Skriniar alongside centre-back partner Denis Vavro.
Defender Peter Pekarik should also be expected to appear in the starting XI given that he and midfielder Juraj Kucka are the only two players to have featured in all of Slovakia’s Euros games since the country became an independent nation from Czechoslovakia.
In midfield, Stanislav Lobotka is likely to be flanked by Ondrej Duda and Kucka, while striker Robert Bozenik will be supported by Lukas Haraslin and Ivan Schranz.
As for Romania, however, they did bring Valentin Mihaila into their starting lineup last time out against Belgium on Saturday, replacing Florinel Coman.
However, Mihaila was substituted against Belgium for Ianis Hagi, so while he might start again on Wednesday, there is no guarantee that he finishes the game.
Expect goalkeeper Florin Nita to be shielded by centre-back partners Radu Dragusin and Andrei Burca.
In midfield, Marius Marin will likely be partnered by Razvan Marin and Nicolae Stanciu, while Denis Dragus should start as a striker.

Slovakia possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Pekarik, Vavro, Skriniar, Hancko; Kucka, Lobotka, Duda; Schranz, Bozeník, Haraslin
Romania possible starting lineup:
Nita; Ratiu, Dragusin, Burca, Bancu; R Marin, M Marin, Stanciu; Man, Dragus, Mihaila

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Considering Romania’s strong defensive record, Slovakia could find their opponents difficult to break down.
However, given that all four teams in Group E have a good chance to qualify for the round of 16, the game at Deutsche Bank Park could lead to a few surprises depending on the scoreline between Ukraine and Belgium.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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