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Slovakia may have benefited from a Polish red card on the opening day to claim victory, but it was a solid performance and they may regret being so negative against Sweden in their second match, with Group E so tight heading into matchday three.
They were clearly intent on holding out for a point, though having conceded after 77 minutes, still have work to do in order to advance further.
Luis Enrique raised eyebrows with his squad selection this summer and has faced criticism for his side’s lack of cutting edge. Successive stalemates with Sweden and Poland have left a lot to be desired, especially in the finishing department.
Alvaro Morata in particular has been wasteful with the chances presented to him, while Gerard Moreno also fluffed his lines last time out, so it remains to be seen how Enrique solves his striking conundrum.
La Roja remain intent on passing teams to death, but with too many of them going sideways and a lack of urgency in the tempo, they don’t look like increasing their output significantly.
They’ll hope that having Sergio Busquets back in contention will help, though it’s further up the field where they’ve been found wanting.
Spain are now unbeaten in 10 matches, though they only won four of these, which includes triumphs over weak opponents Georgia, Kosovo and Lithuania who they’d expect to beat comfortably.
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Spain have drawn eight times since 2020, but all but one of these were against quality sides Germany, Portugal and Netherlands, or decent outfits Switzerland, Sweden and Poland. With that in mind, they should get their campaign up and running properly at the third attempt.
Slovakia’s defeat to Sweden ended their own unbeaten run of six games, though they haven’t encountered a top team over this period and stalemates with Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria and Austria would suggest they will fall short here.
This game will take place in Seville and on the road alone, Slovakia are winless in seven, though did take four draws.
However, Israel, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Austria aren’t the most daunting of foes. Still, 11 of Slovakia’s 14 away defeats since 2013 have finished either 1-0 or 2-0, while another two ended 2-0.
That includes results by one of those three scorelines against Belgium in a 2013 friendly, the last time they encountered Spain in qualifiers for Euro 2016, as well as England in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.