Slovakia defender Peter Pekarik believes a repeat of their group-stage performances could see his side shock Germany for the second time in recent weeks when they meet on Sunday.
Jan Kozak’s side take on the world champions in the last 16 of Euro 2016 in Lille, less than a month after they won 3-1 in a friendly encounter in Augsburg.
Following a victory over Russia and a 0-0 draw with England, Pekarik – who plays his club football with Hertha Berlin – is confident they are capable of upsetting Germany once more.
“The result we got in the friendly was fantastic for us,” he said. “Against the world champions, it was a great confidence boost for us.
“To play them twice in a few weeks is a great challenge. We’ll do our best to cause another upset and I believe if we put our heart into it, like we did in our group matches, then we have a great chance of causing the favourites some trouble.”
Head coach Kozak sees Germany as the best “tournament side” at Euro 2016, but believes his players will be up for the challenge if they can keep their team spirit high.
“We’re through to the last 16 against the world champions, it’s a great challenge for us,” he said. “We want to get a good result and I’m sure the players will approach it that way.
“They’re very strong, have been playing together for some time. They play in world-class teams. But there are strengths and weaknesses to any teams, so we’ll try to use that.
“I think Germany are the best tournament side, they can bring their best form to a tournament. It starts for them tomorrow, I think.
“They have an established way of playing. They have lots of experience with these championships.
“Whenever we’ve achieved something, and we’ve done that a lot recently, it was about a team performance with great togetherness. We have players who can make an impact, too.”
The playing surface at Stade Pierre-Mauroy has been completely replaced after music events before the finals and poor weather conditions wreaked havoc with the turf.
Both Kozak and Pekarik expect Sunday’s game to benefit from the relayed pitch after experiencing difficulties in their group-stage win over Russia.
“Well, it’s amazing what you can do in such a short amount of time. I think it will be excellent tomorrow,” said Kozak.
Pekarik added: “From what I’ve seen, the conditions will be very good tomorrow; compared to the match we played against Russia here.”
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