There has been little between Poland and Slovakia over the years as they meet in Saint Petersburg in the opening round of Group E games.
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There has been little to choose between Poland and Slovakia over the years as they meet in Saint Petersburg in the opening round of Group E games.
• Both teams have only to look back as far as 2016 for inspiration ahead of their meeting at the Saint Petersburg Stadium; Poland made it out of the group stage for the first time at the third attempt, getting as far as the quarter-finals, while Slovakia – making their first EURO appearance since the split of Czechoslovakia – also reached the knockout stages, losing in the last 16.
• This is Poland's fourth successive appearance in the EURO final tournament, and Slovakia's second in succession.
• The sides have met in eight previous fixtures, Poland recording three wins to Slovakia's four.
• The sides' last two meetings have both been friendlies. First-half goals from Juraj Kucka (31) and Róbert Mak (39) gave visitors Slovakia a 2-0 win at the Stadion Miejski in Wrocław on 15 November 2013; Poland's Damien Perquis (30) got the only goal at the Wörthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt, Austria, on 26 May 2012.
• This is the teams' fifth competitive fixture, and a first since the qualifying competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Slovakia won both of those contests, 2-1 at home in Bratislava – thanks to a late Stanislav Šesták double (84, 86) – and 1-0 in Chorzów, Seweryn Gancarczyk's third-minute own goal in the latter fixture taking Vladimír Weiss's side to the final tournament, Slovakia's first World Cup appearance as an independent state.
• The teams also met in qualifying for EURO '96, Slovakia's first UEFA European Championship appearance since splitting from Czechoslovakia. Poland won 5-0 on home soil in Zabrze on 7 June 1995, but Slovakia turned the tables with a 4-1 victory in Bratislava on 11 October; Slovakia finished third in Group 1 on 14 points, one point and one place higher than Poland, although neither side qualified for the finals in England.
• Nineteen of the 20 games between Poland and Czechoslovakia were friendlies; the exception was a 2-1 Czechoslovakian win in Warsaw in qualifying ahead of the 1934 World Cup.
EURO facts: Poland
• Poland are appearing at their fourth straight EURO final tournament; prior to UEFA EURO 2016 they had never won a finals match (D3 L3).
• Four years ago, however, they advanced to the last eight for the first time and bowed out without losing a game in regulation play as they were eliminated by eventual champions Portugal on penalties in the quarter-finals (1-1, 3-5 pens). With that game counted as a draw, Poland's record in France was W2 D3.
• A team led by former coach Jerzy Brzęczek finished six points clear at the top of Group G to book their place at UEFA EURO 2020, winning eight of their ten qualifiers (D1 L1) including the last four.
• A 2-0 defeat in Slovenia on 6 September 2019 is Poland's only loss in their last 18 EURO matches (W12 D5).
• Poland's greatest achievements on the international stage were taking bronze at the 1974 and 1982 FIFA World Cups.
• This is Poland's first game in Saint Petersburg. Their record in Russia overall is W1 D1 L9.
• At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Poland finished bottom of Group H with three points. They lost to Senegal in Moscow (1-2) and Colombia in Kazan (0-3) before closing with a 1-0 defeat of Japan in Volgograd; that was also their last game in Russia and their only victory in the country.
EURO facts: Slovakia
• Slovakia are making their second successive EURO appearance after their debut at UEFA EURO 2016, where a side coached by Ján Kozák finished third in Group B behind Wales and England on four points before losing 3-0 to Germany in the round of 16.
• Slovakia's record in EURO finals is therefore W1 D1 L2 – the sole victory a 2-1 defeat of Russia on Matchday 2 in 2016, Marek Hamšík scoring the decisive goal.
• Slovakia's UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign began under coach Pavel Hapal, who oversaw their third-placed finish in Group E on 13 points from eight games (W4 D1 L3), behind Croatia (17 points) and Wales (14) but ahead of Hungary (12) – all three of their rivals also qualifying for the final tournament – and Azerbaijan (1).
• Third in their UEFA Nations League group in 2018/19 behind Ukraine and the Czech Republic, Slovakia therefore qualified for the UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs, Hapal overseeing a 4-2 win on penalties against the Republic of Ireland after their semi-final in Bratislava had finished goalless.
• Hapal left his post before the play-off final, Štefan Tarkovič overseeing a 2-1 extra-time win away to Northern Ireland in which Michal Ďuriš scored the goal that secured a place at UEFA EURO 2020.
• Slovakia are unbeaten in three EURO matches (W2 D1); a 3-1 loss in Croatia on 16 November 2019 is their only reverse in six games (W3 D2).
• While Slovakia had never competed at a UEFA European Championship as an independent nation before 2016, as part of Czechoslovakia they figured in two four-team final tournaments and in 1980, the first eight-team event.
• Czechoslovakia finished third in 1960 and 1980 and lifted the trophy in 1976. Eight of the 11 players who started the '76 final against West Germany – and triumphed on penalties after a 2-2 draw – hailed from Slovakia.
• This is Slovakia's second game in Saint Petersburg, where they lost 1-0 to Russia in a May 2014 friendly. That made their overall record in Russia W1 D2 L2, all against the home side, with the other four games all played in Moscow; Slovakia's sole success was a 1-0 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying victory at the Stadion Lokomotiv in September 2010.
Links and trivia
• Have played in Poland:
Ľubomír Šatka (Lech Poznań 2019–)
Ondrej Duda (Legia Warszawa 2014–16)
Lukáš Haraslín (Lechia Gdańsk 2015–20)
Dušan Kuciak (Lechia Gdańsk 2017–)
• Have played together:
Bartosz Bereszyński & Ondrej Duda (Legia Warszawa 2014–16)
Piotr Zieliński & Marek Hamšík (Napoli 2016–19)
Bartosz Bereszyński & Milan Škriniar (Sampdoria 2017)
Kamil Jóźwiak & Ľubomír Šatka (Lech Poznań 2019–20)
Jakub Moder & Ľubomír Šatka (Lech Poznań 2019–)
Piotr Zieliński & Stanislav Lobotka (Napoli 2020–)
• Poland drew both of their pre-UEFA EURO 2020 friendlies, in Wrocław against Russia (1-1) and in Poznań against Iceland (2-2), to enter the tournament with just one win in their last seven matches – 3-0 at home to Andorra in a March FIFA World Cup qualifier. That was also their only clean sheet over that stretch.
• Jakub Świerczok scored his first international goal in the draw against Russia, with Piotr Zieliński and Karol Świderski finding the net against Iceland, the latter with an 88th-minute equaliser. Tymoteusz Puchacz made his international debut in the first game and set up Zieliński's goal in the second.
• Poland's record cap holder and goalscorer Robert Lewandowski returned after a two-game absence to captain the team against Iceland and make his first appearance in a friendly international since November 2018. He is the only player in Poland's UEFA EURO 2020 squad to have previously scored at the EURO finals, having managed one in each of the last two tournaments – against Greece in the 2012 opening match and eventual winners Portugal in the 2016 quarter-final.
• Although Lewandowski has scored 66 goals in 119 internationals, the second highest number after Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (104 goals) of any UEFA EURO 2020 participant, those are his only two goals in 11 appearances at final tournaments. He did not score in Poland's three matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where the goals were provided by Grzegorz Krychowiak and Jan Bednarek, both fellow UEFA EURO 2020 squad members.
• Lewandowski is one of three players competing for Poland at a third successive EURO final tournament, together with Wojciech Szczęsny and Maciej Rybus, while Łukasz Fabiański, who played in 2016 but missed out in 2012, was a non-playing squad member back in 2008. The other survivors from 2016 are Krychowiak, Zieliński, Kamil Glik and Karol Linetty.
• Arkadiusz Milik, another veteran of UEFA EURO 2016, was originally selected to wear the No7 shirt at this tournament but was withdrawn through injury and not replaced, leaving Poland with 25 players.
• Lewandowski scored a Bundesliga record tally of 41 goals to help Bayern München become German champions for the ninth successive year in 2020/21. The only other title winner from the season just ended in Poland's squad was Tomasz Kędziora, who captured the double in Ukraine with Dynamo Kyiv, while domestic cups were won in Russia by Krychowiak and Rybus of Lokomotiv Moskva and in Greece by Świderski of PAOK.
• Like Poland, Slovakia's two warm-up games for this tournament both ended in draws – 1-1 against Bulgaria in the Austrian town of Ried im Innkreis and 0-0 against Austria in Vienna. Slovakia therefore remain unbeaten in their five matches of 2021, though four of them have been draws, the only win coming at home to Russia (2-1) in a World Cup qualifier on 30 March.
• László Bénes scored against Bulgaria – his first goal at international level – and that game also heralded the return to the team of winger Vladimír Weiss, a 2020/21 Slovakian double winner with Slovan Bratislava, after an absence of almost three years.
• Weiss is one of five veterans of Slovakia's 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa still representing the country at UEFA EURO 2020, the others being Peter Pekarík, Juraj Kucka, Dušan Kuciak and captain Marek Hamšík.
• Weiss and Hamšík were both scorers at UEFA EURO 2016, where Pekarík and Kucka were also present – as were other current squad members Tomáš Hubocan, Milan Škriniar, Ján Greguš, Patrik Hrošovský, Róbert Mak, Michal Ďuriš and another goalscorer in France, Ondrej Duda.
• Hamšík, the country's record cap holder (126) and goalscorer (26), is also the Slovakian with most appearances (40) and goals (11) in EURO matches, qualifiers included. No player from the country, including those who represented Czechoslovakia, has ever managed more than one goal at a EURO final tournament.
• Aside from Weiss – the only player in Štefan Tarkovič's squad representing a Slovakian club – five other players in the party won domestic league titles across Europe in 2020/21: Škriniar in Italy with Internazionale, Jakub Hromada in the Czech Republic with Slavia Praha, Mak in Hungary with Ferencváros and both Ďuriš and Hubocan in Cyprus with Omonoia. Hrošovský was also a Belgian Cup winner with Genk.