Our prediction for this Nations League match:
Slovakia will look to bounce back from a shocking 1-0 loss to Kazakhstan when they take on Azerbaijan in their third group game. The Slovaks are eyeing their second win of the process, and the bookies see them as favourites to pick up all three points from Friday’s clash. The visitors are still without experienced midfielder Marek Hamsik, and, in his absence, a man to keep an eye on in the away team will be Watford midfielder Juraj Kucka.
The Azeri, on the other hand, head into the match following a goalless draw with Belarus. Since the former Soviet Republic have been struggling in front of goal in Group 3, a low-scoring affair is on the cards at Dalga Arena. Midfielder Gismat Aliyev is banned for the hosts as he was sent off in the second group game.
Highlighted Player (Stanislav Lobotka):
Born in Trencin on November 25, 1994, Stanislav Lobotka is a Slovakia international who plays for Celta Vigo in La Liga. Lobotka began his youth career at his hometown club AAC Sparta Trencin and he made his senior debut for fellow local club Trencin. In 2013 he signed a loan deal with Dutch side Ajax, but he played for Jong Ajax during the 2013/2014 season.
In the summer of 2014, the Slovakian midfielder returned to Trencin, where he made 74 appearances in the league in total. In 2015 Stanislav Lobotka joined Danish side Nordsjaelland shortly before the transfer window closed. Lobotka made his debut in the Danish top flight against Brondby on August 30, 2015.
Two years later he decided to make a step forward in his career, signing a five-year contract with La Liga side Celta Vigo. Speaking of his international career, the Celta Vigo midfielder made his Slovakia debut against Austria in November2016. It has to be noted that Lobotka became the first Slovak to score at Wembley, finding the net in a 2018 World Cup qualifier against England.
Highlighted Team (Slovakia):
Slovakia only appeared on the international stage in 1993 as Czechoslovakia fell apart, and the new national team have yet to record a result worth mention. Repre have only qualified for two major tournaments so far, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2016, but the current generation definitely seem capable of improving the team’s profile in years to come.
Slovakia currently have quite a few players plying their trade in some of Europe’s top sides, with Marek Hamsik, Martin Skrtel and Juraj Kucka clearly the leaders of the national team at the moment, but they do struggle in some areas and are not exactly world beaters just yet. Under Vladimir Weiss and Jan Kozak, Slovakia have become a tough not to crack, relying on rock-solid back line and swift counter-attacks, and they even gave Spain a tough time during the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Miroslav Karhan and Robert Vittek are the most capped player and top goalscorer respectively, with Robert Vittek another player worth the mention.