Sunday, August 1, 2021

Prediction: Slovakia vs Spain

Verdict: Spain win & Under four goals

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Unibet

With it all still to play for in Group E on Wednesday evening, Spain will face off against Slovakia in Seville for what is a must-win finale for the former world champions on home soil.

Slovakia

Starting with Slovakia, while The Falcons might have managed to shock many as they landed a 2-1 win against Poland when opening this summer’s delayed European Championships on June 14th, Štefan Tarkovič’s side failed to build off of that performance last time out. Heavily outplayed against Sweden in Saint Petersburg and hit with a deserved late 1-0 defeat against The Yellows, their returning boss should take some solace from the fact that his side still holds their destiny in their own hands. With Wednesday’s hosts enduring a lacklustre start to their Group E campaign, Slovakia have shown some continued issues since that penalties victory against Northern Ireland seven months ago. Having to settle for back-to-back 1-1 friendly draws against Austria and Bulgaria when preparing for the summer, The Falcons also dropped shock points against Cyprus and Malta in March’s World Cup qualifiers. While Slovakia might open their midweek finale sat in that lucrative second-spot, they certainly face a stern test in Seville.

Team News

Defender Denis Vavro will once again miss out on Wednesday evening as he remains in isolation after returning a positive COVID-19 test.

Aside from Ivan Schranz who will also once again miss out in midweek due to a knock, Slovakia boss Štefan Tarkovič doesn’t have any fresh headaches on his hands.

Spain

As for Spain, while the former world and European champions might have signed off their pre-tournament preparations with a 4-0 romp against Lithuania, La Roja have really failed to build off of that performance. Throwing away their first-half lead in Seville and having to settle for a shock 1-1 draw against a struggling Poland, Luis Enrique’s inexperienced squad has come under real scrutiny. Despite opening this summer’s delayed championships tipped as one of the standout picks, the former Barcelona boss finds his side in a real battle to secure an automatic route out of Group E. Opening Wednesday’s finale sat in third spot and one-point adrift of Slovakia heading into a must-win showdown, Spain have only continued to gain a reputation for their struggles in the final third. Lacking a real clinical edge this summer and recording just a single strike so far, Enrique’s men have also managed to win just four of their last 11 matchups across all formats, a run that stems back to October.

Team News

While his pre-tournament COVID-19 test might have thrown Spain’s preparations into havoc, Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has been given the green light to feature in Seville.

Manchester City forward Ferran Torres is pushing for a recall to lead Luis Enrique’s side in midweek.

Key Factors to Consider

    • The last time Wednesday’s opponents faced off back in 2015, Spain picked up a 2-0 win.
    • However, including back-to-back Group E draws against Poland and Sweden, Spain have won just four of their last 11 matchups across all formats.
    • Likewise, Slovakia have also secured just a pair of victories in their last eight straight appearances.
    • Eight of Spain’s last 10 matchups across all formats have finished with under 3.5 goals by the final whistle.
    • The Falcons have managed to keep just a single clean sheet in their last six matchups.

    Conclusion

    After showing some real attacking issues since opening this summer’s delayed European Championships, Spain know that they must put in a far more polished display in Seville this week. Having to settle for a point in their back-to-back Group E openers against Poland and Sweden, the former world champions are seeking a much-needed boost on Wednesday evening. With Slovakia slumping back to losing ways last time out and hit with a deserved 1-0 defeat against The Swedes, Luis Enrique’s men should be looking to book their knockout spot in routine fashion. Despite not being at their best this summer, we’re backing La Roja to leave with all three points in midweek, even if we expect few goals.

    Verdict: Spain win & Under four goals

    Best Odds: 10/11

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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