Our prediction for this Euro 2020 match:
Slovakia and Republic of Ireland face each other at Tehelne pole in the Euro playoffs semis in what is expected to be a close encounter. Slovakia have been anything but impressive in the UEFA Nations League, with the team losing to Czech Republic, while sharing the spoils with Israel. Martin Skrtel is no longer playing for the national team, but former Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik is likely to prove a handful for the opposition back-line.
The Boys in Green, on the other hand, will be without Troy Parrott, who is sidelined with injury, but both Robbie Brady and Callum O’Downda are included despite missing games for their respective clubs. Anyhow, a low-scoring clash is on the cards in Zenica as both teams are likely to adopt a cautious approach in the European Championship playoffs, semi-final. It has to be noted that the two sides shared the spoils in each of their previous four meetings in all competitions.
Highlighted Player (Martin Skrtel):
Martin Skrtel is without a doubt one of Slovakia’s most famous footballers and with over 80 appearances for the national team, he is also one of their most capped players. Following a bright start to his career at Trencin, the powerful defender secured a move to Zenit, where he would go on to spend next three and a half years.
But, it was the £6.5 million transfer to Liverpool in January 2008 that put him on the map and ensured he would be remembered by football fans everywhere. Known for his uncompromising style of play that often got him into trouble, Skrtel enjoyed some success at Anfield, and even though major titles eluded him and his teammates, the centre-back scored in the 2011/2012 League Cup final to help the Reds lift the coveted trophy.
The Slovakian defender has so far made over 240 Premier League appearances for one of England’s most famous clubs and he has also been a real rock at the back for the Slovakian national team. Skrtel has missed very few competitive matches for his country after making his debut back in 2004, and he started four fixtures at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Highlighted Team (Ireland):
Competing as an independent entity since 1953, Republic of Ireland have struggled to match the world’s best national teams ever since, although they did achieve several respectable results on the road. Their best ever result, the 1990 World Cup quarter-final, was achieved with a big smile from Lady Luck seeing that the Irish reached the last eight without winning a single match.
They have since reached the last 16 stage at the 1994 and 2002 tournaments, while only qualifying for three European Championship finals (1988, 2012, 2016). The Irish were in the top 10 of the FIFA Rankings in 1993 and 1994, but have failed to repeat the success in the next twenty odd years, and it appears they are no closer to bridging the gap behind European powerhouses.
Robbie Keane holds the record for most national team caps and goals at the same time, having bagged 67 in 143 appearances, whereas Niall Quinn, Steve Staunton, Damien Duff, Tony Cascarino and Don Givens are some of the other star players.