Monday 20th June. 8PM. ITV 1
We’ve only just settled down from the euphoria of Thursday afternoon’s dramatic finish against Wales, but Roy Hodgson’s England are back in action on Monday night as they play their final group game in St Etienne.
Slovakia are the team standing in England’s way of a guaranteed top spot and place in the last 16. If it continues the trend of Group B’s previous matches, then we could be in for yet another thriller in France.
Come on England!
Hamsik Out To Inspire Upset
After the disappointment of losing to Wales, Jan Kozak’s men bounce back emphatically with an easy win over a lacklustre Russia. The Slovaks still have some work to do if they want to book their place in the last 16 and will be targeting a draw at the very least in this one.
A win could actually see the underdogs usurp Hodgson’s men to top the group, as long as Wales don’t score a huge victory in Toulouse. Slovakia might not boast the most star-studded squad, but they certainly have enough talented players to cause a few problems.
Aside from inspirational vice captain Marek Hamsik, who scored a pearler against Russia, the Slovakians will be looking to skipper Martin Skrtel and midfielder Juraj Kucka for inspiration. Meanwhile, former Manchester City man Vladamir Weiss will be hopeful of following his goal against Russia too.
Slovakia will appreciate that they face a difficult task. However, they won’t make things easy for the Three Lions. Expect a spirited performance from start to finish.
Hodgson Facing Selection Headache
England were brilliant in their second half fightback against Wales, but the performance will pose a few dilemmas for the manager, who will now be fully expected to rotate the starting XI after sticking with the same players in each of the opening two matches.
Goal heroes Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy have certainly done themselves a world of good as they look to earn starting berths. England looked far more dangerous with that added pace, which will leave Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane worrying.
Full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have been brilliant too, but Hodgson may want to rest those players as their understudies offer very similar qualities. Whatever XI take to the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard pitch, England will want to assert themselves early on.
If they perform to their potential, though, it should be a routine win to top the group. Come on England!
Slovakia v England Betting
Unsurprisingly, Hodgson’s group leaders are firm favourites to win Monday’s battle and are priced 3/4 to get the three points with Bet365. However, at odds of 5/1, Slovakia shouldn’t be ruled out altogether. The draw, meanwhile, can be backed at 5/2.
England will be in buoyant mood following the late heroics against Wales, and that should lead to another confident display. As has been the case in both of their previous fixtures, the Three Lions boast the far better team. And they’ll be looking to make that count.
A win will guarantee top spot and an early goal would go a long way to settling the nerves. If they do take the lead before the interval, we can see them extending it after half-time. The main issue is breaking through the Slovak defence. At odds of 4/1, it’s worth a punt.
Even if England do struggle to break down the Slovakians at periods, Hodgson’s men will be expecting to enjoy plenty of possession.
England raced to nine corners against Wales, and their attacking quality could shine through again once more. Some punters may be more attracted to the -4 Asian corners handicap at 9/10, but we’ll be backing the race to nine.