This should be a very interesting second game in Group B after the results in the first round of fixtures. With the news that Russia will be excluded from the competition if they are involved in any more crowd trouble, the Russians will want the focus to return to football and will be hoping a win can change people's opinion of Russia and Russian football in general.
Slovakia were beaten by Wales 2-1 in the previous game so this has now become a must win. As the only team in the group without a single point on the board, they will think that their chances of qualification will be reduced to pretty much zero if they fail to muster at least a draw here. Slovakia actually started quite well against Wales and if not for some heroic defending from Ben Davies, would've been 1-0 up courtesy of the impressive Marek Hamsik. I think they will be disappointed with how that game turned out and should have the confidence that they will beat Russia. It will certainly be a very interesting game.
We all know what happened to the Russians in the last round, they were outplayed for long spells of the game against England and due to negative substitutions and a bit of luck, they managed to salvage a draw at the death. Slovakia are not as strong as England and the Russians will be buoyed by that last minute draw. They will also want to distract from the recent off field crowd issues they have been facing. I expect them to go for it a little bit more in this game instead of sitting back like they did against England, so we could have an end to end game on our hands which can only be entertaining for the neutrals.
This game could decide who takes a third place qualifying place or even better take 2nd if England have a collapse against Wales so it could be very important in the grand scheme of the group.
I think the Russians will be a lot more adventurous in this one and will need to trust their old heads in the heart of the defence. They're also blessed with a fantastic goalkeeper in Igor Akinfeev who made a superb save to deny Wayne Rooney in the England game. Slovakia will try to attack and they do have an outside chance is Hamsik can pull the strings but I just think Dzyuba, Shatov and Kokorin may prove a bit too much for them.
Russia have a couple of tricky wingers who love to cut inside and run into the box, combine this with the fact that Martin Skrtel looked a bit dodgy in the last game and we could well see a penalty. Slovakia's goal also came from a darting run into the box as well as Hamsik's unlucky missed chance, this means that both teams have talented dribblers in their ranks and all it takes is for one of the old timers to bring them down and we could well see a penalty given.
We've had a very low scoring tournament so far and I think it is because nobody wants to lose the first game of a major tournament and therefore will have been playing slightly more defensively than usual. In the second round of games, these 2 teams both need a win and will have to go for it more. So I can see this game going further than just 1-0 and that's why I've gone for 2-1 to the Russians which will effectively knock Slovakia out.
This will be quite high odds with the bookies but I think Russia showed their resilience against England but I can see them going behind because of how quickly Slovakia came out of the blocks against Wales. Russia took a while to get going against England but showed the quality when it mattered, if they go a goal down then you could start seeing the best of them.
This guy knows where the goal is, he takes free kicks and penalties and he isn't afraid to shoot from distance. The Russian defence may struggle to mark him as he plays a free role which could see him very far advanced up the field. He's a top quality player that could score any time.
Hamsik is the designated free kick taker for Slovakia along with Robert Mak. Hamsik is a very accomplished set piece taker and could well score a decisive goal in this contest from a direct free kick. It's definitely worth a couple of quid.