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Poland vs. Slovakia: Preview, predictions, team news, betting tips and odds

June 13, 2021 | 16:04

Poland kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Group E outsiders Slovakia on Monday, in St Petersburg. As the Eagles enter the finals with their only win this year coming against lowly Andorra, the pressure is on coach Paulo Sousa to start with a win in Russia's cultural capital.

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Poland and Slovakia face off in a Group E opener which could go a long way to deciding their respective fates at Euro 2020.

With Spain favourites to win the group, and Sweden also along for the ride, a win for either Poland or Slovakia in St Petersburg would stand one nation in good stead to reach the knockout stages.

Poland have not had the best run heading into the tournament, and have only made it out to the Euros knockouts once before - but they do have the best striker in world football in Robert Lewandowski. As for Slovakia, they reached the last-16 at Euro 2016, and could be dark horses.

Date, kick-off time and venue

Photo: Evening Standard
Photo: Evening Standard

Poland vs Slovakia is scheduled for an 5pm BST kick-off on Monday, June 14, 2021.

The match will be held at Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg, Russia.

Poland vs Slovakia: Team news

Photo: The Telegraph
Photo: The Telegraph

Poland

Goalkeepers: Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Skorupski

Defenders: Jan Bednarek, Bartosz Bereszynski, Pawel Dawidowicz, Kamil Glik, Michal Helik, Tomasz Kedziora, Kamil Piatkowski, Tymoteusz Puchacz, Maciej Rybus

Midfielders: Przemysław Frankowski, Kamil Jozwiak, Mateusz Klich, Kacper Kozlowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Karol Linetty, Jakub Moder (Brighton), Przemyslaw Placheta, Piotr Zielinski

Forwards: Dawid Kownacki, Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Karol Swiderski, Jakub Swierczok

Slovakia

Goalkeepers: Martin Dubravka, Marek Rodak, Dusan Kuciak

Defenders: Peter Pekarik, Lubomir Satka, Denis Vavro, Milan Skriniar, Tomas Hubocan, Jakub Holubek

Midfielders: Marek Hamsik, Stanislav Lobotka, Patrik Hrosovsky, Juraj Kucka, Ondrej Duda, Robert Mak, Vladimir Weiss, Laszlo Benes, Lukas Haraslin, Tomas Suslov, Matus Bero, Erik Jirka

Forwards: Michal Duris, Robert Bozenik, David Strelec

Poland vs Slovakia: Match preview

Given that their current team is built around the reigning World Player of the Year, many observers expect Poland to emerge behind favourites Spain from a closely-matched section at this summer's Euros.

However, their opening game of the much-delayed event could prove decisive in the final analysis, as they must also encounter the experience and collective will of Sweden, after meeting a new-look Spanish side in their second outing.

The tactical tinkering of wildcard coach Paulo Sousa has so far proved unsuccessful since his appointment in place of previous boss Jerzy Brzeczek earlier this year, which came after the latter had serenely steered his nation through qualifying.

Having struggled under Brzeczek when the Nations League resumed last November, coaching itinerant Sousa has gone on to experiment with different personnel and tactical setups. However, in their opening Qatar 2022 qualifying fixtures, Poland picked up only one point from meetings with chief rivals England and Hungary; defeating humble Andorra in between.

Not only that, but in the Eagles' warm-up friendlies this month, they have been held to draws by both Russia and Iceland - extending their winless streak against top-tier nations to the best part of seven months. In fact, only Karol Swiderski's late equaliser - as Sousa fielded a strong XI against the Icelanders - saved them from falling to a morale-sapping defeat last time out.

In the plus column, though, Poland can turn to their captain, most-capped player and all-time leading marksman to fire them to a successful start on Monday, with Robert Lewandowski currently the Bundesliga's most lethal penalty-box predator and one of the most admired strikers across the continent.

A nation of 38 million football fanatics will be depending upon it, as the Poles attempt to make their fourth successive attempt at the finals as successful as their last, five years ago, when they made it to the last eight; losing only to eventual champions Portugal on penalties.

Another nation to have achieved relative success in France will await Poland in their first fixture, as Slovakia were delighted to reach the last 16 at their first ever European Championship since independence at the last staging of the Euros.

With three teams again advancing from four of the six groups, Stefan Tarkovic's side can realistically target a repetition of 2016's feat, but will be aware that avoiding an opening night defeat could prove crucial to their hopes.

The Falcons certainly trumped 'the luck of the Irish' in getting to the finals: beating the Republic of Ireland in a penalty shootout in their playoff semi-final - with coach Pavel Hapal subsequently being sacked - before Tarkovic then led them to victory over Northern Ireland in the final.

Since the qualifiers ended over a year ago, Slovakia's form, however, has been largely underwhelming. They have won only two of their last 13 matches within 90 minutes, while dropping four points against Cyprus and Malta at the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign in March - though they did subsequently spring a surprise by turning over Russia in a backs-to-the-wall win on home soil.

A side of few stars, but helmed by Scudetto-winning defender Milan Skriniar and the now declining talents of national legend Marek Hamsik, it is likely that Slovakia will still prove obdurate opponents for Poland and their other Group E counterparts - as evidenced by their tightly-contested post-season friendlies versus Bulgaria and Austria, which both ended in draws.

Poland vs Slovakia: Prediction

Photo: The Stats Zone
Photo: The Stats Zone

Due to preparations disrupted by injury and experimentation, Poland's status as favourites for this game is far from secure. Nonetheless, the undimmable talents of Piotr Zielinski and national icon Robert Lewandowski should prove enough to crack a resolute Slovakia rearguard on Monday.

Even following a potential defeat, there will still be all to play for, as the Slovaks will be aware that two teams progressed in third place during the 2016 event despite tallying only three group stage points.

Poland enter Euro 2020 under new management, with Paulo Sousa taking the reins earlier this year and looking to guide the nation out of a European Championship group stage for only the second time in their history, a feat they managed in the previous tournament.

The Eagles enjoyed a relatively straightforward qualification campaign, finishing atop Group G and some 11 points clear of third place. Despite that, Jerzy Brzeczek was sacked in January, and Portuguese coach Sousa has succeeded him, with the former Leicester and Swansea manager taking on his first international gig.

As for Slovakia they finished third in Group E of the qualifiers and have entered Euro 2020 via the play-offs, famously breaking Northern Ireland hearts in Path B. Stefan Tarkovic’s side could prove a dark horse, with the likes of Milan Skriniar, Stanislav Lobotka and Martin Dubravka no longer making this ‘Marek Hamsik FC’.

Scoreline prediction: Poland 2-0 Slovakia

Slovakia vs Poland Betting Odds

The Slovakia vs Poland betting odds have been revealed and they show that the Poles are a handy favourite to win this game at 1.80 – and why not with Lewandowski in the ranks.

Indeed, it’s interesting when you examine the Euro 2021 betting odds for Group E, because they show that the bookmakers have Poland as short as 1.44 to qualify for the knockout phase of the competition.

Consequently, they have to be fancied to win this opening game against Slovakia, which is scheduled to take place in Dublin on June 14.

They have plenty of goals in their starting eleven too, and defensively Slovakia did struggle at times in qualifying – they shipped seven in two games against Croatia, while also failing to keep clean sheets against the likes of Hungary and Azerbaijan.

We’re not expecting this to be a goal-fest or anything like that – both teams are quite conservative in their approach, but we do think Poland’s advantage is such that in our Euro 2020 betting tips we will also be backing Poland with a -1 goal handicap.

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