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EURO 2020 review: Slovakia

Slovakia started in style but ran out of steam when they came up against the class of Spain.

Slovakia concluded the group stage with a chastening loss to Spain
Slovakia concluded the group stage with a chastening loss to Spain POOL/AFP via Getty Images

It all looked so positive when Slovakia opened the tournament with victory against Poland, though ultimately that first-half performance proved their best of the finals. Štefan Tarkovič's team struggled to find their attacking rhythm thereafter and the point they needed against Spain on Matchday 3 proved a bridge too far.

What were the positives?

That initial defensive showing against Poland – not to mention Milan Škriniar’s Star of the Match display – boded well. Allied with enough forward thrust to win the game, it seemed like Slovakia had struck a fine balance. They came close to an important point against Sweden, too, until one late mistake which ultimately cost them dearly.

Tournament highlight

Star of the Match: Škriniar highlights
Star of the Match: Škriniar highlights

Škriniar’s winner against Poland was special enough in itself, but the post-match celebrations on the pitch were truly magical to witness close up. I also had the privilege of filming and interviewing the squad behind the scenes – they were a pleasure to deal with.

What the future holds

I am optimistic that the future is bright, but Slovakia’s first requirement on the field is to unearth an effective forward to spearhead their attack. Then there's the need to replace talismanic captain Marek Hamšík, who won’t be around forever.

Prediction for the rest of EURO 2020

Hard to say, but Belgium, Italy, France and Spain remain my favourites to win the title. I am still curious what my dark horse for the tournament – Czech Republic – might achieve, though the Netherlands are sure to provide stiff opposition in the last 16. Don’t dismiss Croatia and, of course, Germany either.