Russia and Slovakia go head-to-head in Wednesday’s early EURO 2016 tie at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, with both sides looking to top Group B ahead of Thursday’s clash between Wales and England.
The Russians, whose European Championship finals campaign has been marred by off-field antics, will guarantee themselves top spot today in Group B if they secure all three points after salvaging a last-gasp 1-1 draw against the Three Lions last Thursday.
Meanwhile Slovakia, who suffered an opening 2-1 defeat to the Dragons, are seeking their first point(s) of the tournament in France this summer.
In their European Championship finals debut as an independent nation, Jan Kozak’s side need at least a point in Lille to avoid being in the last chance saloon for progressing to the knockout stages come next week.
However history doesn’t bode well for the Slovaks ahead of kick-off, with the team failing to score in their last 243 minutes of action against Russia.
In fact; Leonid Slutsky’s men come out on top in the head-to-head record, with the Russians winning three of the nine encounters between these two nations, with Slovakia only prevailing twice.
Despite their encouraging previous run; Russia have managed to keep just two clean sheets in their last 16 games at the Euro finals, winning only once in their last six outings (vs Lithuania, 3-0).
Meanwhile in the Slovakia squad, there will be some familiar faces lining up against the opposing fans, as Jan Durica and Tomas Hubocan both currently play their club football in Russia – whilst Martin Skrtel, Jan Mucha and Kornel Salata have also previously done so.
Midfielder Denis Glushakov, who featured in the final 10 minutes against England last week, could fully recover from a calf strain to start for Russia on Wednesday afternoon.
The only other injury worry for boss Slutsky is that second-choice goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin missed training on Tuesday with an unspecified knock.
Meanwhile Slovakia manager Kozak is expected to make several changes following their opening loss to Wales.
Ondrej Duda is tipped to start in Lille after the substitute scored just 52 seconds after coming on last Thursday.
FIFA World Ranking: Russia – 29th; Slovakia – 24th
Best European Championship Finish: Russia – Semi-Finals (2008); Slovakia – First tournament
Previous Meeting: Russia 1-0 Slovakia (May 26, 2014 – International friendly)
Form: Russia – LWLLDD; Slovakia – DDWWDL
Key Men: Russia – Aleksandr Kokorin; Slovakia – Marek Hamsik
Shoot Says: Russia 1-2 Slovakia