Wales vs Slovakia by Luke
Saturday's schedule will bring us two matches in group B. In the first of them we will see two debutantes at the European championships, Wales and Slovakia. Both national teams appeared once at World Cup, but this is the first time to qualify for the final event of EURO, after ending both at second positions in their qualifying groups.
As said, Wales will be playing for the first time at EURO, as they fully deserved the qualification ending as second in relatively tough group. They showed strong commitment from the start of the qualifications and great fighting spirit during their path, especially when they played against strong side like Bosnia is, or when they took four points in two matches against favored Belgium.
Besides that, it must be said that Wales has conceded only four goals in ten qualifying matches, which is the least number of all teams in the group. However, the team had problems in their latest friendly matches, as they lost to Netherlands 3:2, but also away to Ukraine 1:0 and Sweden 3:0, only managing to drew with Northern Ireland 1:1 at home. They couldn't count at the biggest star Gareth Bale in these matches, who will be starting in the lineup for sure now, same goes for second big star - Aaron Ramsey. Midfielder Joe Ledley and forward Hal Robson-Kanu are doubtful for this one.
They should be lined up in 3-5-1-1 formation with Bale as offensive midfielder and Vokes as striker.
This is a debut at European championships for Slovakia as well, as the team appeared six years ago for the first time at the World Cup competition too in South Africa. They did well back then, reaching the last sixteen round. After that, they couldn't qualify for next two major events, but were at the leading position for a long time in these qualifiers and completely deserve their position at this EURO.
However, in the finish they slipped down a bit and Spain overtook the first position, however leaving Slovaks more than satisfied with the second place and option that they will be going directly to the European championship. In the meantime, they maintained very good form during friendly matches, winning four and drawing three games during seven previous matches. Their recent victory over Germany 3:1 must be singled out, while they had a goalless draw against Northern Ireland after that.
That might indicate that the team doesn't play with ease against tough British style, while regarding selection, central defenders Tomas Hubocan and Norbert Gyomber are both slightly injured and aren't expected to start here.
Although the Slovaks look better overall, it's really hard to predict the outcome of the game. Their previous two matches ended with plenty of goals and even though similar outcome isn't very likely, I still believe that taking goals as option here is a valuable choice. Both teams till need to risk more and search for a victory which would be their only grant to keep the chances of progressing further since they both have even tougher opponents in next two rounds - England and Russia.