Slovakia v Spain: Profligate three-time winners at risk due to draw streak

Slovakia v Spain: Profligate three-time winners at risk due to draw streak

Luis Enrique accepted criticism ahead of Spain’s decisive Group E clash with Slovakia, where another draw may not be enough.

Spain have drawn with Sweden and Poland so far at Euro 2020 and could follow Portugal in 2016 as the second ever team to be held in all three matches in a European Championship group stage.

Portugal went on to win that tournament, but Spain would not even be assured of third place in their pool and a place in the next round if results went against them elsewhere.

Worryingly for Luis Enrique, whose side missed a host of chances in their first two matches, a point apiece appears the most likely result.

Spain have drawn each of their past four major tournament matches – one shy of a record for European sides.

And a point would suit Slovakia, ensuring they advance for the third time in three major tournament appearances, after the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2016.

Spain coach Luis Enrique described himself as “preoccupied with us meriting better results but not getting them”.

“We’ve created enough chances to win both games,” he added, yet the under-fire boss recognised he could not complain about scrutiny.

“We coaches fully understand the fact that we live by results, and what not meeting your objectives means,” Luis Enrique said.

“I’m hoping that by the end of Wednesday we’re not only in the knockouts but as group winners. Right now I’ll accept the criticism.”
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Slovakia – Martin Dubravka

Goalkeeper Dubravka conceded the costly penalty when Slovakia lost their second match to Sweden, having earlier made a stunning save. That was one of just five stops so far at the tournament, though, while he has picked the ball out of his net twice. Spain may be wasteful, but that save rate may need to improve.

Spain – Gerard Moreno

Moreno will certainly hope to keen Dubravka busy – if he gets the opportunity. The forward missed a penalty against Poland (Spain’s fifth miss from their past eight attempts at the Euros) and Luis Enrique hinted at potentially looking for a solution in attack. Moreno has been involved in more goals (nine) for Spain since his debut than any other player.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Slovakia have won only one of their six meetings with Spain (D1 L4), a home victory in a European Championship qualifier back in October 2014 (2-1). This is their first encounter at a major tournament.
– Spain have won all three of their previous matches on home soil against Slovakia, scoring 11 goals and conceding two.
– Slovakia are unbeaten in their final group-stage game at both of their previous two major tournaments, winning 3-2 against Italy at the 2010 World Cup and drawing 0-0 with England at Euro 2016. They have progressed from the group stages at both previous tournaments.
– Including one as caretaker manager in 2018, Stefan Tarkovic has only lost two of his 11 matches in charge of Slovakia in all competitions (W4 D5 L2), with one of those defeats coming last time out against Sweden; Slovakia are yet to lose back-to-back games under him.
– Spain have drawn their last four major tournament matches (World Cup and Euros); among European nations, only Italy (five from 1980 to 1982) have ever had a longer run of successive such draws.

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