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Preview: Russia v Slovakia

"I don't think it will be any harder, but I know it won't be easier," Leonid Slutsky says of the challenge for Russia in following up their draw against England with a positive result in Lille.

Russia train at the Stade Pierre Mauroy
Russia train at the Stade Pierre Mauroy ©AFP/Getty Images
  • Russia looking to repeat their 2014 friendly win against Group B rivals Slovakia
  • Vasili Berezutski's 92nd-minute header earned Russia 1-1 draw with England on Saturday
  • Slovakia suffered 2-1 defeat by finals debutants Wales in their opener
  • Soviet Union beat Czechoslovakia 3-0 en route to European glory in 1960
  • Czechoslovakia defeated Soviets 4-2 on aggregate in their run to 1976 title

Possible line-ups
Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Ignashevich, V Berezutski, Schennikov; Neustädter, Glushakov; Shatov, Shirokov, Kokorin; Dzyuba.
Doubtful: Lodygin (back)

Slovakia: Kozáčik; Pekarík, Škrtel, Durica, Hubočan; Hrošovsky; Mak, Kucka, Hamšík, Weiss; Nemec/Duda.

Coach quotes
Leonid Slutski, Russia coach
In terms of being euphoric [after drawing with England], there is no chance of that. There has not been a single game at the EURO so far that has been dominated by one team.

I would not say we are favourites in this match – we need to play the way we did against England. I don't think it will be any harder but I know it won't be easier either. Every team in this group still has a chance of getting through.

Ján Kozák, Slovakia coach
The Russian team is made up of players who play for teams like CSKA Moskva and Zenit, who regularly play in the UEFA Champions League. They have improved under Slutski and are very well organised, with good transition from defence to attack and vice versa.

The Wales defeat was unnecessary and when we reviewed it, we saw that the Welsh made more mistakes; we just couldn't take our chances. But we did make mistakes and now we have a chance to make amends against Russia.

UEFA.com team reporters
Richard van Poortvliet (@UEFAcomRichVP)
There is no question of Russia underestimating Slovakia on Wednesday, with a number of players saying the Slovaks could prove to be tougher opponents than England. While Russia were excellent in defence in Marseille, there will be more emphasis on them as an attacking force in Lille. The Russians have plenty of options going forward but must give Artem Dzyuba more support than he received against England.

Rastislav Hríbik, Slovakia (@UEFAcomRastoH)
If we lose again, most likely we are going home, but despite a bad start against Wales, the players believe they can overcame Russia. They know their opponents well: Martin Škrtel, Kornel Saláta, Ján Ďurica, Ján Mucha and Tomáš Hubočan (who is finally fit) have all played in Russia. However, they need to press and fight harder for sustained periods this time – having threatened only intermittently in their opener.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)

Did you know?
Slovakia reached the 2016 finals thanks mainly to wins in their first six qualifiers, a run that included a 2-1 home triumph against Spain – the holders' first qualifying defeat in 36 matches and nine years. Find out more in our extensive match background.

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