Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Germany v Slovakia
Germany v Slovakia
Germany and Slovakia go head-to-head for a place in the last eight of Euro 2016.
Germany v Slovakia, Sunday 26th June 2016, 17.00, ITV1 & RTE2
Both sides will have fond memories of the venue for this match, for Germany opened their campaign with a convincing 2-0 win against Ukraine in Lille, while the same Stade Pierre-Mauroy played host to Slovakia’s first ever victory at the European Championships – a 2-1 win over Russia in Group B.
Only one team, though, can take their place in the quarter-finals of the competition and it is unsurprising that the world champions are warm favourites to come out on top in Sunday’s showdown.
Die Mannschaft have yet to concede a goal in this competition, chalking up clean sheets against Ukraine, Poland and Northern Ireland – the first time that the Germans have negotiated the group stages of a major tournament without conceding a goal since Euro ’96.
Of course, Germany went on to be crowned as champions 20 years ago and, brimming with belief following their World Cup triumph in Brazil two years ago, Joachim Low’s men have set their sights on more success in France this summer.
The Germans have reached the semi-finals stage at each of the last five major tournaments and, given the quality of player at Low’s disposal, it would be considered a failure should the world champions fail to, at least, make the final four at a sixth successive tournament.
Germany were the top scoring team in Brazil two years ago – memorably hammering seven past the host nation at the semi-finals stage – but they have, at times, struggled to turn their superiority into goals in this tournament.
The main striking position has been problematic for Low’s men in France. Mario Gotze, deployed as a false nine in Germany’s first two fixtures, failed to shine, while Mario Gomez spurned a number of opportunities against Northern Ireland – although the Besiktas striker did score the only goal of the game.
Remarkably, Thomas Muller, who has scored 10 World Cup goals for his country, is yet to break his duck in this competition and the Bayern Munich man will be determined to put that particular statistic to bed on Sunday.
Germany, though, have scored in all but two of their last 16 matches at the European Championships and,
with a remarkable array of attacking talent at his disposal, Low is unlikely to be too concerned about his side’s ability to get amongst the goals this weekend.
Die Mannschaft, though, will be acutely aware of the threat posed by Jan Kozak’s team, not least because Slovakia secured a stunning 3-1 win against Low’s men – in Germany – in the build-up to this competition.
A repeat of that triumph would cap a remarkable reversal in fortunes for Slovakia, whose stay at the European Championships threatened to be short-lived after they crashed to a dismal defeat against Chris Coleman’s Wales in their opening match.
A 2-1 triumph over Leonid Slutsky’s men in their second match breathed fresh life into the campaign and the Slovakians secured a place in the last-16 of the competition after frustrating England in a goalless draw on Monday night.
Slovakia’s impressive defensive performance against the Three Lions may have won plaudits in some quarters, but Kozak’s side know that such an approach against Die Mannschaft is unlikely to reap rewards and, instead, Slovakia are likely to go for goals.
With the exciting Marek Hamsik in their line-up, Slovakia certainly have the potential to test Germany’s defensive discipline and they will hope to be as clinical as they were when the two teams met in Augsburg – Kozak’s team scored with three of their four shots-on-target that night.
Don’t Dismiss Underdogs
Slovakia scored in eight of their 10 matches prior to the stalemate against England and having lost just one of their last 35 games by more than a solitary strike – a 2-0 away defeat to Spain during qualification – the underdogs shouldn’t be completely dismissed.
Germany haven’t yet hit full steam but they should boast enough attacking nous to grab a victory here but instead of diving in on short odds-on quotes for the favourites, backing Die Mannschaft to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 at 6/5 makes the most appeal.
Germany to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 (6/5)
*Prices correct at time of publication