Soccer-Slovakia braced for Romania challenge as 2021 ghosts linger


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group E - Slovakia v Ukraine - Dusseldorf Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany - June 21, 2024 Slovakia's Ivan Schranz celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - Slovakia will not tinker with their style of play and go all out for victory when they take on Group E rivals Romania at the European Championship on Wednesday, seeking three points to ensure progression to the knockout rounds.

It is the tightest of pools with Slovakia, Romania, Belgium and Ukraine all locked on three points and with everything to play for in the final round of matches.

Slovakia are at their third continental finals in a row, reaching the last-16 in 2016 before a group stage exit three years ago in a campaign that mirrors this one.

On that occasion they beat Poland in their opener, lost to Sweden in their second game and were then thumped 5-0 by Spain in Seville to exit the competition with three points.

After a shock 1-0 win over Belgium in Frankfurt in their first game of Euro 2024, they let a lead slip against Ukraine to lose 2-1 and are now faced with likely needing a point from their final game again to advance.

"Romania are a physical team and have a tactical game that is very good, so it is a hard match for us," Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona told reporters on Tuesday.

"But we have our own style of play. I don’t like to change much of what has led us to be here in Germany, and therefore we will continue with that against Romania."

Calzona did not single out a particular dangerman in the Romania team, but says, like his side, they are dangerous as a collective with their team spirit and never-say-die attitude.

"I like the fact they never give up. I don’t want to talk about one player in particular, I am afraid of them as a group," he said. "I am concerned about the whole team, they are a great squad of players."

With a draw likely to send both teams into the last-16, there has been talk they may contrive to each earn a point at the Frankfurt Arena, but Calzona dismisses this.

"I am not going to comment on that, we are professionals and while we know a draw might help us to qualify, we want to play our own match and we deserve the opportunity to seal our own progression. No-one will give us anything for free," he said.

"Tomorrow we are going to play our own game. We hope we can win but if in the end a draw does allow us to progress, we will welcome that."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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