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Spain know a win against Slovakia will send them through to the Euro 2020 knockout stages following a tough start to the tournament in Group E - but a defeat would see them crash out.
La Roja had been expected to breeze through a group full of tenacity but relatively low on quality, but Luis Enrique’s men now face a real fight to even make it into the last-16 after drawing their opening two games against Sweden and Poland.
The saving grace for Spain is that they know victory on Wednesday in Seville will take them through to the knockouts. A draw would see them finish third, but that result coupled with a Poland win over Sweden would mean an early exit.
As for Slovakia, they would reach the last-16 if they win, or a draw would do coupled with Sweden not losing.
Date, kick-off time and venue
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Slovakia vs Spain is scheduled for a 5pm BST kick-off on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
The match will be held at Estadio La Cartuja in Seville.
Cesar Azpilicueta has not played so far, but there is clamour in Spanish media for him to return to provide leadership and allow Marcos Llorente, who has been playing at right-back, to resume his usual attacking role.
Captain and midfielder Sergio Busquets was sorely missed in Spain’s first two games due to testing positive for Covid-19, but is set to return here.
Slovakia vs Spain predicted lineups
Slovakia XI: Dubravka; Pekarik, Satka, Skriniar, Hubocan; Kucka, Hrosovsky; Haraslin, Hamsik, Mak; Duda
Spain XI: Simon; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Pau Torres, Gaya; Llorente, Busquets, Thiago; Gerard Moreno, Morata, Traore
After the jubilation of starting off their Euro 2020 campaign in perfect fashion with victory over Poland, Slovakia were brought crashing back down to earth against a fired-up Sweden, who leapfrogged Tarkovic's men in the standings thanks to a 1-0 win on Friday.
Alexander Isak may have caught the eye on the day, but it was Emil Forsberg's confidently-dispatched penalty which ultimately settled the contest, and manager Tarkovic has conceded that his side must produce a 'miracle' against Spain to make the last 16 for the second time running.
Slovakia's fate is still in their own hands, though, as they remain one point above La Roja in second place and need only draw with Luis Enrique's side to seal progression, with their opening-day victory over Poland meaning that they could not be caught by Paulo Sousa's men in that scenario.
The temptation to shut up shop against Spain will certainly be real for Tarkovic - especially seeing as his crop could not find the target with 10 attempts against Sweden - and Slovakia saw a six-game unbeaten run across all competitions end at the hands of Forsberg and co on matchday two.
With shock results being thrown up left right and centre at Euro 2020, the open nature of Group E means that Slovakia could still progress as winners or finish rock bottom of the pile, but the former option sounds slightly far-fetched as Spain seek to kickstart their campaign at the third attempt.
Morata could not direct the follow-up from the penalty on target as Poland stood firm for the final 30 minutes at the Estadio La Cartuja, and Spain simply have to find a winning formula from somewhere lest they risk a group-stage exit at the Euros for the first time since 2004.
The stalemate with Poland did at least extend Spain's unbeaten run across all competitions to 10 matches, but Enrique was left to rue what could have been as Spain fans prepare for a nail-biting 90 minutes on Wednesday, although La Roja could yet follow in the footsteps of Portugal, who drew all three of their 2016 group-stage games en route to the trophy.
Spain have struggled for results in recent weeks and will be aiming to end their winless run to book a place in the knockout stages. They head into the game with an ample amount of world-class talent in their team and this will give them an edge over the Slovakians.
Looking at the gulf in quality between the two sides, we predict Spain will claim all three points.
Prediction: Slovakia 0-2 Spain
Betting tips and odds
Over 2.5 Goals
Four of the last six meetings between these two countries have produced over 2.5 goals and we're expecting more of the same on Wednesday. Spain must go all out for the win against Slovakia and we know they can score goals as three of their last six matches have produced at least three goals and Spain have won on each of those occasions. Three of Slovakia's last six fixtures have also produced over 2.5 goals, so you can see why we're confident that at least three goals will be scored in this game.
Both teams have scored in five of the last six head-to-heads between Slovakia and Spain, and we have backed both teams to find the back of the next in their latest encounter as well. Four of Slovakia's last six outings have seen both teams score while three of Spain's last six matches have ended the same way, which is why we're predicting goals in this game for both countries.
2-1 to Spain
This is a must-win game for Spain and we believe they will secure the 3pts they need, but only just. Slovakia haven't conceded more than two goals in any of their last six international matches and have only failed to score in two of those games. Spain have struggled to convert their chances at Euro 2020 but this side does have goals in them and we're predicting a narrow 2-1 win for Luis Enrique's men.
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