European Championship Qualifier: Slovakia vs Spain match preview

A look ahead to Thursday’s European Championship Qualifying fixture

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The Independent Online

Spain will be hoping to put their disastrous World Cup behind them and gain an early lead in Group C in this clash with the only other side to have won their opening match.

Vicente del Bosque’s side banished any doubts of a hangover from the debacle in Brazil by dismantling Macedonia 5-1 in their opening match, David Silva pulling the strings as Spain returned to form in convincing manner.

Paco Alcacer scored in his first start, but the young Valencia striker may be sidelined by the return of Diego Costa – the imposing frontman has taken the Premier League by storm with nine goals in his first seven Chelsea appearances.

Slovakia, however, should not be underestimated. They battled their way to a 1-0 win in a tough opening fixture in Ukraine, Robert Mak grabbing the crucial goal.

Their squad has Premier League experience through Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel, and in Napoli’s Marek Hamsik, their captain, spiky-haired talisman and most capped player, they boast one of Europe’s most complete midfielders.       

KICK-OFF: Thursday, 7.45pm

PAST THREE MEETINGS…

Slovakia 1 (Holosko) Spain 1 (Villa), World Cup Playoff, November 2005

Spain 5 (Luis Garcia 3, Torres, Morientes) Slovakia 1 (Vittek), World Cup Playoff, November 2005

Slovakia 1 (Majoros) Spain 2 (Kiko, Amor), World Cup Qualifying, September 1997

STATS…

Spain have never lost to Slovakia – in their four meetings, they have won three and drawn one.

Slovakia have not won any of their last three competitive home games.

Spain have won their last 14 away qualifiers since drawing 1-1 with Iceland in September 2007.

Despite Slovakia’s poor record since gaining independence in 1993, Czechoslovakia actually had the better of their clashes with Spain, winning three of the teams’ five matches.  

ODDS…

Slovakia to win: 8.5

Spain to win: 1.4

Draw: 4.4

TV: Live on Sky Sports 5, 7.45 pm

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