UEFA Euro 2016: Slovakia vs England - 5 players to watch out for
England will go for the kill against Slovakia in this Group B encounter of Euro 2016 in Saint-Etienne. England came back from a goal down against Wales in the last match to win the tie 2-1. Half-time substitutes Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge led the comeback which will give England manager Roy Hodgson a welcome selection dilemma ahead of the match.
Slovakia themselves go into this encounter on the back of a win which saw midfielder Marek Hamsik score a potential ‘Goal of the Tournament’ against Russia which they won 2-1. They never really looked in pressure in the game against Russia and Slovakia coach Jan Kozak is expected to field an unchanged side in this tie.
A win is important for both the teams as neither have their place in the knockout stages sealed yet. A win for the Three Lions would take them top of the group and give them a favourable draw against a third-placed team of another group in the Round of 16.
We take a look 5 players who could make a difference in this encounter.
1) Wayne Rooney
Rumour has it that Wayne Rooney will be rested for tonight’s game against Slovakia. However, it is unlikely that Roy Hodgson will dare to bench the England captain for the entire game where England haven’t secured a Round of 16 berth yet.
With all to play for this match, Rooney’s role will be crucial for England’s chances to progress as table toppers. Though not the same player he once was, Rooney is still an integral and indispensable element of the team. He is an all-round player who can easily play in midfield and control games from there as he showed against Russia and Wales.
Rooney’s best position is in the hole behind the striker though Hodgson indicated that he might put him up front as a striker. The England captain will have to play further up the pitch than he did against Wales.
He often went too deep into the midfield searching for the ball and trying to create chances for his team. However, his strength lies in delivering the final ball and his finish which would be taken away from him if he ventured too far back. Finding little pockets of space between the double line of defence that Slovakia is set to apply and delivering the final ball to Vardy or Sturridge or perhaps go for it himself will be Rooney’s role in the match where England fans would hope he excels.