Stefan Tarkovic’s men suffered a 1-0 defeat to Sweden in their most recent encounter, while Spain had to make do with a 1-1 draw against Poland.
After the jubilation of starting off their Euro 2020 campaign in perfect fashion with victory over Poland, Slovakia were brought crashing back down to earth against a fired-up Sweden, who leapfrogged Tarkovic’s men in the standings thanks to a 1-0 win on Friday.
Alexander Isak may have caught the eye on the day, but it was Emil Forsberg’s confidently-dispatched penalty which ultimately settled the contest, and manager Tarkovic has conceded that his side must produce a ‘miracle’ against Spain to make the last 16 for the second time running.
Slovakia’s fate is still in their own hands, though, as they remain one point above La Roja in second place and need only draw with Luis Enrique’s side to seal progression, with their opening-day victory over Poland meaning that they could not be caught by Paulo Sousa’s men in that scenario.
The temptation to shut up shop against Spain will certainly be real for Tarkovic – especially seeing as his crop could not find the target with 10 attempts against Sweden – and Slovakia saw a six-game unbeaten run across all competitions end at the hands of Forsberg and co on matchday two.
With shock results being thrown up left right and centre at Euro 2020, the open nature of Group E means that Slovakia could still progress as winners or finish rock bottom of the pile, but the former option sounds slightly far-fetched as Spain seek to kickstart their campaign at the third attempt.
A combination of wasteful Spanish finishing and heroic Polish defending saw Luis Enrique’s frustrations continue at Euro 2020, as Spain endeavoured to right the wrongs of their goalless stalemate with Sweden by getting one over Poland.
La Roja made the ideal start as Alvaro Morata’s initially disallowed goal was awarded following a VAR review, but none other than Robert Lewandowski would proceed to rise highest and head home an equaliser in the 54th minute before Gerard Moreno’s penalty struck the post.
Morata could not direct the follow-up from the penalty on target as Poland stood firm for the final 30 minutes at the Estadio La Cartuja, and Spain simply have to find a winning formula from somewhere lest they risk a group-stage exit at the Euros for the first time since 2004.
The stalemate with Poland did at least extend Spain’s unbeaten run across all competitions to 10 matches, but Enrique was left to rue what could have been as Spain fans prepare for a nail-biting 90 minutes on Wednesday, although La Roja could yet follow in the footsteps of Portugal, who drew all three of their 2016 group-stage games en route to the trophy.
Slovakia did manage to overcome Spain as recently as 2014, but Luis Enrique’s men – technically the ‘home’ side in this encounter – are three for three on Spanish soil versus their upcoming opponents, who will still dare to dream.