By Aidan Slinn (Russia) & Tom Clarke (Slovakia)
Russia (Aidan Slinn)
Last match recap
Russia were largely on the back foot in the game against England on Saturday. They defended stubbornly and refused to be pushed over easily by England who imposed themselves more than most of could have hoped for. We could talk about shots and targets and various other statistics, but as they say, the only stat that really counts is the number of goals scored.
Vasili Berezutski stoppage time equaliser leaves Russia with completely different outlook going forward. I’m pleased to see (well I wasn’t particularly at the time) that my new sweepstake allegiance showed some defensive resilience and character to pull themselves back in to the game. The result, along with Wales’ win against Slovakia, leaves Group B wide open and it will be interesting to see who can make it out.
Yesterday we heard the news that Russia have been handed a suspended disqualification from UEFA, due to the ugly aftermath of the game. They will be wanting to give a good account of themselves against Slovakia, and hopefully the afternoon goes by more peacefully than the weekend.
How I will watch it
To be honest, I won’t be, well not really anyway. With the factor that the match kicks off at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon, paired with the fact that I am teaching a class of four year olds, doesn’t really leave me with much opportunity. I have already used all my negotiating leverage for the week to enable a projector set up for the England vs Wales game on Thursday, which I think you’ll agree is fair enough. However, when the children leave for the day I will head straight to the office to catch the end of the second half and I will be able to catch the highlights later on.
Prediction: Russia 1 – 0 Slovakia
This is quite a tough game to call, Russia did a good job of soaking up pressure from a dominant England on Saturday, but I would expect them to be the aggressor against Slovakia, which means they will be required to show us something completely different.
Slovakia managed to punish some passive defending from Wales this weekend, so the Russian defence will have to be on the top of their game again. I fancy Russia to nick it 1-0, with the big man Dyzuba to get himself on the scoresheet. I’m hoping to see Oleg Shatov get more involved in this game, as he is a player who can be exciting to watch.
Slovakia (Tom Clarke)
Tom will be missing this game whilst he’s otherwise preoccupied in Australia.