Wales and Slovakia make their Euro Cup debut when they meet in the Group B opener at Stade Matmut-Atlantique in Bordeaux on Saturday evening.
The Wales national football team managed by Chris Coleman was the surprise package in the Euro qualifiers where they finished second in the group below Belgium. They lost just once during the campaign and with 6 wins, they accumulated 21 points from 10 games. Since then they haven’t fared well by failing to win in four consecutive friendlies, with 2 of them being defeats.
Wales are a team heavily reliant on their star man Gareth Bale, who contribute 7 of the 11 goals during the qualifying phase. They held a strong defensive record in qualifying rounds by conceding just 4 goals in 10 matches, but this was also breached in the recent friendlies as they let in 8 goals in 4 games.
Slovakia qualified for the Euros by finishing second in their group with 22 points, 5 points below Spain and 3 above Ukraine, with 7 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats. They are unbeaten in the 7 friendlies played since then by winning 4 and drawing 3. The 3-1 win against Germany on 29th May is an evidence of what this team is capable of. They are also in a good scoring form after netting 14 goals in their last 7 matches, with 2 or more goals scored in 5 of those.
Just like Wales, this Slovakian side are also dependent on the brilliance of one man Marek Hamsik. But unlike their opponents, Kozak has plenty of experienced international campaigners in his squad in the likes of Martin Skrtel, Jan Durica and Vladimir Weiss.
Wales: Team News
Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu are short on fitness and Chris Coleman has confirmed that the duo will sit out for the Euro 2016 opener against Slovakia. There are also slight concerns on the fitness of Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen, but the Wales manager has hinted he will start on Saturday.
Coleman is expected to prefer a 3-5-2 formation, with Gareth Bales playing as a forward in hole behind the main striker Sam Vokes. Joe Allen will be partnered by Leicester City’s Andy King and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey in the middle of the park, with Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter on either flanks.
Wales: Predicted Line-up (3-5-2)
Hennessey – Davies, Williams, Chester – Taylor, King, Allen, Ramsey, Gunter – Bale, Voakes.
Slovakia: Team News
Jan Kozak will setup his Slovakia team in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Marek Hamsik in a free role orchestrating the attack, with Vladimir Weiss and Robert Mak supporting him in wide areas. Adam Nemec is expected to lead the line, but Michael Duris is also pushing for a start.
Inter Milan midfielder Juraj Kucka and the experienced Viktor Pecovsky will be responsible for retrieving the ball at the middle of the park.
Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and Lokomotiv Moscow’s Jan Durica will be the preferred center backs, with Dusan Svento and Pekarik in support on either wings.
Slovakia: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Kozacik – Svento, Durica, Skrtel, Pekarik – Pecovsky, Kucka – Weiss, Hamsik, Mak – Nemec.
Wales vs Slovakia: Head-to-Head Stats
Wales and Slovakia had on two occasions previously, both during the qualification stages of Euro 2008, sharing a win each in two high scoring encounters.
The first meeting was on 7 October 2006 at the Millennium Stadium Cardiff, where Slovakia run rout in a 5-1 win. Gareth Bale became Wales’ youngest ever scorer at the age of 17 years, two months and 22 days, a record that still stands. Marek Mintal score twice for Slovakia on that occasion.
In the return leg at the Antona Malatinského Stadium in Trnava on 12 September 2007, Wales had their revenge by winning it 5-2. Gareth Bale was also present in that Wales team, but Craig Bellamy was the hero with 2 goals. Marek Mintal, who was captain of the side score Slovakia’s both goals, taking his tally to 4 goals in 2 games against Wales.
Wales vs Slovakia: Prediction
Both teams are making their first ever appearance in the European Championship and either of them will be keen to avoid a defeat here. A tricky and slow start is expected to the match, but is expected to get intense midway through the first half.
Looking at the form guide, Slovakia are on an excellent form after coming on the back of a 8 match unbeaten run, while Wales are on a 4 match win-less run, with 3 defeats. I will be backing Slovakia for a win, even though it will be by a narrow margin.
Wales haven’t scored in their last two fixtures, but the return of Gareth Bale could serve as a welcome inspiration. Slovakia have conceded goals in three of their last four matches and they are expected to concede irrespective of their scoring prowess. So both teams to score is a good option for this match.
Exact Score Prediction Wales 1-2 Slovakia.
- Slovakia to Win (odds @ 2.89)
- Over 2.5 goals (odds 2.62)
- Both Teams to Score (odds 2.16)
- Both Teams to Score and Slovakia to win (odds 7.31)
- Gareth Bale to score any time (odds 2.71)
*Odds from Bet-at-Home at the time of composing this article.
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