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European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 21, 2024 at 2pm UK
Merkur Spiel-Arena

1 - 2

Schranz (17')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Shaparenko (54'), Yaremchuk (80')
Yaremchuk (84')

Preview: Slovakia vs. Ukraine - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Slovakia vs. Ukraine - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's European Championship clash between Slovakia and Ukraine, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Buoyed from their surprise win over Belgium, Slovakia will be targeting three more points when they face Ukraine in Friday's Euro 2024 Group E clash at the Dusseldorf Arena.

In contrast to their opponents, Ukraine are searching for their first points of the tournament after falling to a heavy defeat in their tournament opener against Romania.

Match preview

Slovakia may be the lowest-ranked side in Group E, but that did not stop them from punching above their weight in their tournament opener as they sprung a surprise to claim a narrow 1-0 victory over Belgium.

They were forced to ride their luck following Ivan Schranz's opener as Romelu Lukaku saw a couple of goals ruled out, including a controversial call to disallow his 86th-minute strike for handball against Lois Openda in the build-up.

Although they may have experienced a bit of fortune, Slovakia were ultimately rewarded for their hard-fought display, pulling off the first upset of Euro 2024 to end Belgium's 15-game unbeaten run.

The Falcons have now won their tournament opener at back-to-back European Championship after beating Poland 2-1 in their first outing of Euro 2020.

However, Slovakia went on to lose their next two games and crash out of the group stage at Euro 2020, so they will be fully aware that they still have work to do to reach the knockout rounds for the second time as an independent state.

Francesco Calzona's side will be targeting another strong defensive display, having recorded clean sheets in their last three matches.

The Falcons will be guaranteed to progress as at least a best third-placed side if they claim maximum points in Dusseldorf.

Meanwhile, they will secure a top-two spot in Group E if they beat Ukraine and Belgium suffer a surprise defeat to Romania in Saturday's fixture.

Ukraine had to work hard to secure their place at a fourth consecutive European Championship, fighting back from a goal down to win both of their qualifying playoff games against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland.

After showing great character to seal their spot in Germany, Ukraine would have been bitterly disappointed with their performance in Monday's opener against a determined Romania side, who scored a couple of long-range strikes on their way to condemning the Blue and Yellow to a heavy 3-0 defeat.

Ukraine may have enjoyed over 70% possession in their tournament opener, but their dominance on the ball translated to just two shots on target compared to Hungary's five, which would have frustrated Serhiy Rebrov in his first major tournament game as a manager.

Slovakia's surprise 1-0 win over Belgium has left Group E wide open ahead of the second round of matches, but Ukraine know that they need to beat the Falcons to have a realistic chance of reaching the knockout rounds for the second consecutive Euros.

Perhaps, the Blue and Yellow can draw inspiration from the fact that their only win in the Euro 2020 group stage took place on the second matchday when goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk fired them to a 2-1 win over North Macedonia.

Ukraine have managed to avoid defeat in seven of their previous eight meetings with Slovakia (W3, D3), although they did slump to a 4-1 loss in the most recent head-to-head match in the UEFA Nations League in November 2018.

The Blue and Yellow will be unable to secure a top-two spot if they lose to Slovakia and Belgium fail to pick up maximum points against Romania.

Such a scenario would leave Ukraine's last-16 hopes resting on whether they could clinch one one of the four best third-placed spots.

Slovakia European Championship form:

Slovakia form (all competitions):

Ukraine European Championship form:

Ukraine form (all competitions):

Team News

As long as there are no injury concerns, it would be a surprise to see Calzona make any changes to the side that started the win over Belgium.

Paris Saint-Germain's Milan Skriniar will wear the captain's armband, with the centre-back set to be joined in a back four by David Hancko, Denis Vavro and Slovakia's second-highest appearance holder Peter Pekarik.

Stanislav Lobotka is a key figure in the heart of the Slovakia midfield, and after winning UEFA Man of the Match for his performance against Belgium, the Napoli man will be looking to produce another strong performance when he makes his 57th international appearance.

After making his major tournament debut on Monday, Boavista's Robert Bozenik will continue to spearhead the Slovakia attack, and the 24-year-old will be hoping to add to the seven goals that he has scored for his country.

Meanwhile, Ukraine will assess Vitaliy Mykolenko's fitness after the Everton defender was forced to miss the opening game with a foot injury that he sustained in the warm-up match against Moldova.

If Mykolenko is unable to feature, Arsenal's Oleksandr Zinchenko will have to continue at left-back rather than operating as a midfielder which he has done on so many occasions for his country.

Rebrov could be tempted to freshen up his midfield, with Ruslan Malinovskyi in contention to start the second group match.

Artem Dovbyk experienced a difficult outing against Romania, mustering just one shot during the course of the contest, but he still poses one of Ukraine's main attacking threats after finishing the 2023-24 season as La Liga's top scorer with 24 goals in 36 matches.

Slovakia possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Pekarik, Vavro, Skriniar, Hancko; Kucka, Lobotka, Duda; Schranz, Haraslin, Bozenik

Ukraine possible starting lineup:
Lunin; Konoplya, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Zincheko; Sudakov, Stepanenko, Malinovskyi; Tsygankov, Mudryk, Dovbyk

We say: Slovakia 1-1 Ukraine

Ukraine will be desperate to produce an improved display following their underwhelming performance against Romania, but their record in the European Championship group stage offers little cause for inspiration, having won just two of their previous 10 group matches (L8).

We ultimately think that Rebrov's side will be held to a draw by Slovakia, who are unbeaten in four matches and boast a strong defence as demonstrated by their stubborn display against Belgium.

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

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