Russia vs Slovakia Preview: Lille plays host to Eastern European rivals

Both sides search for their first win of the tournament at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Russia vs Slovakia Preview: Lille plays host to Eastern European rivals
Source: VAVEL UK

Russia and Slovakia are separated by 3,246 miles but on Wednesday, the two meet face to face in Lille as Group B action resumes with both teams looking to pick up their first win of the tournament. 

Both sides will still like their odds to advance out of the group but three points are a necessity in the second game of the group.

Team news

Russia: The Russians were poor in their opener against England and despite struggling, they managed to come away with a point thanks to a last minute equaliser from Vasili Berezutski

The violence from fans in the streets of France has marred the early stages of Russia's campaign so far but a victory on Wednesday could put the focus back on the team. Dmitri Torbinski is a doubt through illness while Yuri Lodygin faces a late fitness test with a back problem. 

Leonid Slutsky's men will be hoping to put in a better performance against Slovakia and Artyom Dzyuba will be one man in particular aiming to assert himself more.

Projected XI: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Berezutski, Ignasevich, Schennikov; Neustadter, Golovin, Kokorin; Shatov, Smolov; Dzyuba.

Slovakia: Similar to their upcoming opponents, Slovakia failed to impress in their opener and fell to a late winner from Wales' Hal Robson-Kanu in a 2-1 defeat. A bounce back performance from Jan Kozak's side is necessary or his side's Euro hopes could be hanging by a thread.

Tomas Hubocan and Norbert Gyomber, who were both doubtful before the Wales clash, retain their tag and are doubts for the second game of the group.

A small spell in the second half against Wales saw Slovakia look dangerous but in order to beat Russia and have any hope of advancing out of Group B, they need to step up and Marek Hamsik especially must lead the way.

Projected XI: Kozacik; Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Svento; Kucka, Hrosovsky, Duda; Hamsik, Weiss, Duris.

Slovakia train in Lille ahead of their crunch clash with Russia. | Image credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia train in Lille ahead of their crunch clash with Russia. | Image credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Background

Russia have won both recent meetings with Slovakia, including a friendly back in 2014 that ended 1-0.

Wednesday's game will be the ninth time these two teams have face each other. Russia have won three of those games, Slovakia have won twice and the remaining three have ended in stalemates.

A win for Russia would propel them to top of the group with Wales and England to play the following day. A win for Slovakia would make things very interesting heading into the final day of the group play.

Players to Watch

Russia - Alexsandr Kokorin: The 25-year-old was quiet against England but a strong response from the forward against Slovakia will only bring success to the team. Kokorin must get more involved and create more going forward, something that will only help his teammate Artyom Dzyuba grow into the game.

Slovakia - Marek Hamsik: The main man for Slovakia failed to make a statement in their opener but the Napoli midfielder has a chance to redeem himself against a Russia midfield that struggled in their opening game. Hamsik had his moments against Wales but he has to impose himself early and dictate play for Slovakia to stand a chance.