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Russia and Slovakia each vie for victory in French Lille to advance at 2016 Euro Cup

June 15, 15:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian team’s Head Coach Leonid Slutsky was cautious in comments about the upcoming match saying that the national football squad of Slovakia is a balanced team with a well-developed model of playing
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© Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. Bearing the burden of a suspended disqualification, imposed by UEFA over fans misconduct at last week’s match against England, team Russia is set to face Slovakia on Wednesday afternoon in its second group stage match of the 2016 Euro Cup in France.

Russia takes on Slovakia at the 50,000-seat Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille in Wednesday afternoon’s football encounter, which kicks off at 3:00 p.m. local time (13:00 GMT). UEFA’s press service announced earlier in the day that it will be the first match at the current tournament held without the full-house attendance as 2,000 tickets remained unsold.

Russian team’s Head Coach Leonid Slutsky was cautious in comments about the upcoming match saying that the national football squad of Slovakia is a balanced team with a well-developed model of playing.

"We have watched many matches played by Slovakia," Slutsky told journalists earlier. "This team has a well-developed game model."

"I am reiterating that it is a balanced team with a group of highly-skilled players and they bet on the game of combinations," the Russian coach said. "They have Marek Hamsik and Juraj Kucka in the midfield and Martin Skretel in defense."

Slutsky, who took over the national squad last year from Italian specialist Fabio Capello and led it to qualify for the 2016 Euro Cup, particularly addressed the Russian football fans in France to behave decently as the team could be disqualified from the championship at any moment in light of UEFA’s sanctions.

UEFA announced on Tuesday its decision to fine the Russian Football Union (RFU) 150,000 euros ($168,200) over Russian football fans’ misconduct during their national team’s opening match of the 2016 Euro Cup against England last week.

Moreover, the European governing body of football issued a suspended disqualification for the Russian team, which means that the national squad would be disqualified from the major European football tournament in case of the repeated instance of Russian fans misconduct.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said commenting on the upcoming game that the players in the team were "in good mood" and "kept practicing," however, the atmosphere in the squad was slightly tensed by the imposed suspended disqualification.

"UEFA’s decision on the suspended disqualification plays its role," Mutko said. "This is why the situation in the team is slightly tensed."

Asked what the team needs to show in the match against the Slovaks, Mutko, who is also the RFU president, told TASS that the Russian footballers could be more successful if they added up on the offense.

"On the whole, if we add up more of the offensive to the game they demonstrated against England, the Russian team will get the successful result," Mutko said. "We have no other variants in order to advance to the next stage [of the championship]."

"Today is a key match as everyone understands that there is no way to retreat for the Slovaks and for us as well," he added.

Slovakia lost its opening group stage match against Wales last Saturday 1-2 and currently ranked last with zero points in its Group B, which besides the Welsh team it shares with Russia and England. The Russian and English squads finished their June 11 match with 1-1 draw and each has one point in the group’s standings, topped by Wales with three points.

In their previous nine matches played against each other at various tournaments, Russia won three and Slovakia two encounters, while four matches ended with the draw. The Russian scored in total 10 goals and allowed Slovakia to score a total of seven against them.

Slovakia, however, has a better record in four friendlies it played in the run-up to the championship having two victories, including 3-1 over reigning World Champions Germany, and two draws.

Russia emerged the winner only once in four friendly matches it played ahead of the major European football tournament, beating Lithuania by three goals to nothing. There was one draw against Serbia on Sunday and two defeats to France (2:4) and the Czech Republic (1:2).

The 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France from June 10 to July 10 has matches lined up in 10 different locations, namely in Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.

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