England vs Slovakia Preview: Three Lions need a win for top spot

Both England and Slovakia were triumphant in their last run-outs, but who will come out on top in Monday's game?

England vs Slovakia Preview: Three Lions need a win for top spot
Photo: Harry Robinson/VAVEL UK

It’s been a tough tournament for Roy Hodgson’s men so far. Many saw Englands group of Russia, Wales and Slovakia as one they would sail through, but yet again, they have made hard work of things.

The Three Lions should have comfortably beat Russia but failed to take their chances and were ultimately punished for their waste when Russia broke English hearts with a late equaliser.

Late drama against Wales

It looked like the Euro misery was going to pile on England when they faced Wales. The home nation rivals took the lead through none other than Gareth Bale and time was running out for England. Much to everyone’s surprise, Hodgson decided against switching up his team against Wales, despite lacklustre performances from Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

The pair continued their poor form into the game against Wales, and Hodgson had seen enough at half-time and hauled them off in favour of Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy.

Sturridge celebrates with the entire squad | Photo: Michael Regan/The FA
Sturridge celebrates with the entire squad | Photo: Michael Regan/The FA

It turned out to be the perfect substitution for Hodgson as Vardy netted the equaliser from close range less than ten minutes after the break. And then Sturridge sent the home England fans both in France, and at home, into absolute delirium, scoring an injury time winner to break Welsh hearts.

A change in tactics?

England certainly showed the passion, togetherness and will to win that Bale claimed was so obviously missing from the camp. But after the late excitement, will Hodgson name an unchanged line-up for the third time? It’s unlikely.

Following their heroics on Thursday, it’s likely that Vardy and Sturridge will be rewarded with starts whilst Kane and Sterling drop to the bench. Hodgson may also be dubious about starting Gary Cahill, the Chelsea defender must serve a one-match ban if he receives a booking.

A draw is enough for England to go through, whereas Slovakia must win. England’s opponents will head into the game in a positive mood, buoyed by their 2-1 win over Russia.

Slovakia staying positive

A stunning goal from Marek Hamsik saw Jan Kozak’s men snatch an all-important three points. Russia’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation, but they know they can’t let their concentration slip like that against England.

Kozak has already said he has a number of changes in store for the game, and will change the strategy to suit England’s game plan. He admitted that he does have the team to cope with England’s strength, so instead will focus on his own side’s style of play.

The coach will certainly have some tough decisions to make, as six Slovakian players are currently facing a one-game ban if they are booked.

England have beaten Slovakia in their past three meetings, with the latter’s last victory coming in 1976 whilst they were still known as Czechoslovakia.