Why you cannot count Slovakia out of Euro 2024
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Why you cannot count Slovakia out of Euro 2024

17/06/24 18:44

Why you cannot count Slovakia out of Euro 2024

Despite being one of the lowest teams in FIFA rankings, and the lowest of group E at 48th. And even despite my predictions for the side, Slovakia pulled off a remarkable win in their opening match against Belgium. The first time a side has won in the Euros with a gap in FIFA rankings as large as 48 to Belgium in third.

Here’s three reasons why they did it, and why you should not count them out.

Belgium and Romelu Lukaku’s inability to score

While The Falcons played a fantastic game, Belgium could have and maybe should have still come away with three points, and the biggest reason in them not doing so was simply not scoring.

Belgium had five shots on target, four of which came from Lukaku. Early on Lukaku missed two very good chances, before rather unluckily having two goals out by VAR due to an offside call for the first and a handball in the buildup to the second.

Add this to the earlier decision by Arsenal winger Leandro Trossard to take the defence on by himself, rather than passing to a wide open Lukaku to shoot into an empty net, and it does not look good for Belgium’s attack who now face a must win game in match day two.

A clear and effective game plan by Francesco Calzona

Slovakia played a very smart match from start to finish. They got ahead early after Ivan Schranz’s seventh minute goal and continued to press Belgium throughout the first half.

In the second half, the Slovaks were happy to sit back, soak up pressure and maintain the one goal lead they had. With this working against a team like Belgium, you would fancy their chances against Ukraine who were torn apart by Romania and even against the latter despite them posting three goals in their opening match.

A bit of luck is sometimes all you need

Slovakia were brilliant in this match, and credit should be given where it is undoubtedly due, but VAR decisions and a defensive error by Belgium certainly played their part in ensuring a momentous victory.

As mentioned, Lukaku’s first chance at an equaliser was disallowed due to him being ruled offside. The second was disallowed due to a rather controversial handball from Lois Openda in the build up to the goal.

In tournament football, particularly the group stages, sometimes luck is all you need. As far as Slovakia is concerned, a win is a win and they will be feeling pretty confident ahead of Friday’s meeting with a beaten down Ukraine.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Cameron Beards

Football Writer

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