Slovakia v Rep Of Ireland preview, betting, and probable starting teams with both sides looking to advance to the playoff final.
Slovakia v Republic Of Ireland Preview
Ireland Team News
Finally, after several months of anticipation Ireland will play Slovakia in their crucial Euro 2020 playoff. Manager Stephen Kenny has had little time to prepare his players due to such a quick turnover of league football.
This has only allowed him to have one or two training sessions before flying out to Bratislava. With such a shaky start to their Nations League campaign with just one draw and a defeat, there is little time to correct the errors of the last international break.
The last two games against Bulgaria and Finland, saw Kenny tweak his starting eleven opting for a mixture of experience and youth. Ireland will presumably line out in Kenny’s preferred 4-3-3 formation, one that he has stuck to in the last few games. With a win desperately needed, Kenny will need to get the balance right to excel in a new ambitious style of play.
Slovakia Team News
Pavel Hapel’s Slovakia ,approach this playoff in similar form to Ireland having slow starts to their nations league. These coming in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic and 1-1 draw with Israel.
Slovakia will be at a massive disadvantage on Thursday night with most of their starting backline out injured including their goalkeeper. Reports claim that Slovakia are considering ex Liverpool defender Martin Skrtle to come out of international retirement for the game.
This injury crisis will result in some inexperienced substitutes or underage level players being drafted into the squad. Slovakia will likely line out in their usual 4-3-3 formation but given injuries a more defensive formation may be chosen to protect the backline. Slovakia ,like Ireland will be looking to qualify for their first major tournament since Euro 2016.
Predicted result Slovakia 0- 1 Republic Of Ireland
I predict the match on Thursday to be a nervy affair. Both teams will look to cancel each other out with their 4-3-3 formations. However, as the game wears on Slovakia’s inexperienced defense may begin to falter. This could result in a change to a 5-4-1 formation.
Slovakia will drop deep in their own half sitting off and waiting for the opportunity to counter attack against Ireland. Their best chances may come from their all time capped player and top scorer Hamsik. If Slovakia can break out and get up the pitch quickly, he will have the composure and range of passing to split Ireland open from midfield.
This may play into Irelands hands with Slovakia dropping deep and Ireland looking to implement their new style of possession-based football. Irelands best chances may come from the front three pressuring the inexperienced Slovakian backline.
The speed of wingers such as Connolly, Robinson or O’Dowda would easily be able to penetrate Slovakia and cause them problems. This combined with midfielders such as Hourihane that can unlock their defense with a single pass.
With the main factor of Slovakia’s defensive injuries, I see Ireland emerging as victors at the end of 90 minutes.
Thursday 7:45 pm RTE 2/Sky Sports Football
Venue Tehelné pole
Previous Meeting Republic of Ireland 2- 2 Slovakia (International Friendly 2016)
Odds Slovakia 13/8, Draw 15/8, Rep of Ireland win 15/8
Predicted Starting Line-ups
Slovakia Probable Starting Team
Rodak; Gyomber, Skriniar, Valjent, Kucka; Sabo, Mihalik, Bero, Lobotka; Koscelnik, Hamsik
Subs Ľubomír Šatka, Róbert Boženík, Ivan Schranz, Dušan Kuciak, Patrik Hrošovský, Lukáš Haraslín, Dominik Greif
Doubtful: Denis Vavro (Groin problem)
Injured: Martin Dubravka (Ankle), David Hancko (Knee),
Discipline: 4Y, 0 R
Top Scorer Duris/Schranz 1
Republic Of Ireland Ireland Probable Starting Team
D.Randolph, M.Doherty, J.Egan,S.Duffy, E.Stevens, C.Houihane, J.Mcarthy, J.Hendrick, A.Connolly, D.Mcgoldrick, C.Robinson
Subs R.Brady, J.Cullen, S.Long, J.McClean, C.O’Dowda, A.Idah, J.Molumby, K.Long, C.Christie, D.Williams, J.Byrne, A.Browne
Doubtful: S.Coleman (Hamstring)
Injured: Harry Arter (Thigh), Darragh Lenihan (Knee)
Discipline: 3 Y, 0 R
Top Scorer S.Duffy 1