PARIS,June 15: Russia who have been fined by UEFA due to their violent fans, face rival Slovakia in a Group B encounter on wednesday. Both sides will be looking for their first victory at 50,000 seaters Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. As per new format of the tournament, four ponts takes a team to next round so win against slovak will help Russia to seal progession.
Meanwhile Slovakia know that they need to put strong performance today, creating enough goalscoring opportunities which they failed to do in last match against impressive Wales. Ján Kozák will tell his players not to repeat defensive mistakes, because anything less than win will demolish their dream of making last 16. Marek Hamsik is the key man in midfield and unlike against Wales, where he dropped too deep to collect the ball, has to move further up front to orchestrate the play in front of the base of the opposition penalty box.
No major injury concern means head coach Leonid Slutski likely to opt same back four against that he used against England on last saturday. Captain Vasili Berezutski, who rescued a point scoring the equaliser aginst Roy Hodgson's side is set to start in the middle of back four along side veteran Ignashevich. FC Schalke's 28 years old Ukraine-born defensive midfielder on his way to earn second Russian cap, as he is going to get picked up by head coach Slutski to partner Glushakov in midfield. Russia likely to continue to play in 4-2-3-1 system with Dzyuba upfront.
Likley playing XI:
Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Ignashevich, V Berezutski, Schennikov; Neustädter, Glushakov; Shatov, Shirokov, Kokorin; Dzyuba
Ondrej Duda and Robert Mak both impressed as substitutes against Wales and will be hoping to have done enough to secure starting berths.Ján Kozák unlikely to change his back four, Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel and Pekarík should continue their central defence partnership in 4-1-4-1 sytem with lone forward upfront.
Likely playing XI:
Kozáčik; Pekarík, Škrtel, Durica, Hubočan; Hrošovsky; Mak, Kucka, Hamšík, Weiss; Duda
Leonid Slutski, Russia
I would not say we are favourites in this match – we need to play the way we did against England. I don't think it will be any harder but I know it won't be easier either. Every team in this group still has a chance of getting through.
Ján Kozák, Slovakia
The Wales defeat was unnecessary and when we reviewed it, we saw that the Welsh made more mistakes; we just couldn't take our chances. But we did make mistakes and now we have a chance to make amends against Russia.
Head to head
-This will be the ninth time these two countries have met. Russia have claimed three wins to Slovakia's two.
-Slovakia have scored only one goal in their last four games against Russia.
-Only three goals in total have been scored in the last four meetings between the sides.
Some notable facts
-The then-Soviet Union won the first European Championship in 1960, and finished as runners-up in 1964, 1972 and 1988.
-Russia have won only once in their last six matches (D2, L3), a 3-0 triumph over Lithuania.
-Three of Russia's last four goals at the Euros have come in the final 11 minutes of games.
-Ondrej Duda scored after just 52 just seconds after coming off the bench in Slovakia's opener v Wales.
-Slovakian Jan Durica and Tomas Hubocan both play their club football in Russia, Martin Skrtel, Jan Mucha and Kornel Salata have also previously done so.
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