The opening game of Group E will be the one between Poland and Slovakia. The first game for them in EURO 2020/2021 will set the pace for both teams, as the other two teams of the group, Sweden and Spain, are more than capable contenders. In case of a loss, the journey in EURO 2020/2021 will become incredibly tough for either of these teams. Poland will enter their fourth straight European Championship, while Slovakia is doing so for the second time ever, with the first being in 2016.
Both Slovakia and Poland have improved immensely over the last decade or two, and Poland even managed to reach the quarter-finals last time around, but sadly were beaten by Portugal through a penalty shootout. Slovakia on the other hand reached the round of 16 in their first try but had to face the machine called Germany, who cut the Cinderella story by its ankles with a clear 3-0 win.
Best Bookmakers to bet on: Poland Slovakia
There is no doubt Poland will enter this opening game as a big favourite due to their excellent showings lately, which has brought them to a 19th spot on the FIFA World Rankings. Then again, Slovakia has nothing to be ashamed of - they have gone from being a rank 50-60 team to a very respectable 33rd placing on the rankings. We can count on a game full of passion and pride between Poland and Slovakia to kick off group E in EURO 2020/2021. The game between Poland and Slovakia starts on Sunday 14th of June 2021 - 17:00 (GMT) and will be played at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Let’s move on and analyse both teams and their capabilities.
Poland - Overview & Facts
When talking about Poland and football there is usually one thing that pops immediately - Robert Lewandowski. We can’t blame anyone for that, as Poland simply lives and dies with the superstar and his achievements. Since joining Bayern Munchen in 2014, the sharpshooting striker has scored 183 goals in 205 matches, and the national team score is as impressive with 63 goals in 116 matches. It doesn’t stop there though. The 32-year old won the 2020 prize for FIFA Men’s Player of the Year, as well as the same prize delivered by UEFA. We could bring you a long list of the acolytes and accomplishments of Lewandowski, but the truth is also that Poland is much more than just one player, even if he is their weapon of mass destruction.
In fact, the previous national-level player, now coach of the Polish national team, Jerzy Brzęczek, has much more in his arsenal for EURO 2020/2021 than just his superstar striker. Let’s start from the back - Łukasz Fabiański might be getting older, but he is still a quality goalkeeper, and better yet, Poland also has Wojciech Szczęsny who is a regular starter for Juventus. There should be no discussion about Szczęsny being the given starter, but the options are plentiful for Poland regardless. In the defence, Poland possesses loads of quality and experience with Kamil Glik and Łukasz Piszczek being the standout names. The midfield might not be the most star-studded part of the team even if Piotr Zieliński is a world-class player. Still, players such as Karol Linetty, Sebastian Szymański and Grzegorz Krychowiak round out a high-class midfield.
Poland to win the match Bet Poland to win Euro 2020
Upfront, it’s pretty given Poland has the star power needed to make a deep run in EURO 2020/2021, as Lewandowski can take his team on his shoulders and make magic happen. It gets old to mention the captain over and over again, but we are talking about one of the greats here. It doesn’t stop there though - Poland has a great forward side with Arkadiusz Milik and Krzysztof Piątek giving Jerzy Brzęczek plenty of options to work with.
For some, Poland might not stick out as the quality team they are right now, due to their history not being as flashy as others. Make no mistake though, Poland is a real threat in 2021 with plenty of players hitting their prime. It’s no accident Poland qualified for EURO 2020/2021 with no issues at all. One slip-up did happen as they lost to Slovenia (2-0), but besides that, the team was clinical all the way through. Their goal differential of 18-5 over 10 games speaks for itself. Rock-solid defence is the name of the game, with exceptional ability to score the goals when they are needed the most.
Slovakia is in for a tough opening game when Poland comes knocking, and it’s time to see what they can do to stop the train coming against them. The warning has been given - Poland is coming to EURO 2020/2021 with goals to get their best result ever, which is a quarter-final in the 2016 European Championship.
UPDATE: Poland has been a part of interesting World Cup qualification matches and friendlies leading up to EURO 2020/2021:
- Hungary 3-3 Poland (WC qualifier)
- Poland 3-0 Andorra (WC qualifier)
- England 2-1 Poland (WC qualifier)
- Poland 1-1 Russia
- Poland 2-2 Iceland
The results in 2021 might not be surprising by themselves from Poland, but more how they have happened. It's noteworthy that 4/5 matches have gone over the 2.5 goal line, and it might be time to re-evaluate how strong the Polish defence is. While we already knew their offensive and goal scoring capability was there, the lack of solid defence is a surprise. Against Slovakia they have what it takes, but when better opponents await mistakes in the back line will be punished without second thought.
You can find excellent betting odds at the major bookmakers if you decide to back that Poland can reach the eliminations of EURO 2020/2021.
Slovakia - Overview & Facts
Slovakia’s head coach, Pavel Hapal, has more than a few things to consider for their opening game of EURO 2020/2021. Poland is simply a team much stronger than Slovakia on paper, and close to a miracle is needed to gather three points, or even a single point. As Sweden and Spain are the two remaining teams in the group, the game against Poland is crucial for Slovakia. It’s still important to remember that Slovakia is a young football nation, having played only in EURO 2016 and the 2010 World Cup as major international tournaments.
The good news is that they made it through the playoffs in both previous campaigns, and it’s been quite the upset both times. In the 2010 World Cup Slovakia managed to beat Italy in stunning fashion to move forward, and in EURO 2016 they beat Russia in a thriller, just to draw against England in the final game. Can they really do it once more? Let’s have a look at where the Slovak team stands for the time being.
Slovakia to win the match Bet Slovakia to win Euro 2020
In the qualification for EURO 2020/2021, Slovakia managed to grab themselves a third place, trailing Wales by one point, and Croatia by four. An admirable performance, but not enough to qualify the team straight up. Instead, they moved on to the playoffs through Nations League points and ended up playing Ireland and Northern Ireland. As they beat Ireland after penalties and Northern Ireland after overtime it would be fair to call them conquerors of Ireland, as they crushed the islanders' dreams as well as the expectations of the football experts.
Slovakia is a team to some extent similar to Poland but like its mini version. The clear superstar of the team is Marek Hamšík, who played in Napoli from 2007 to 2019 and established himself as a world-class midfielder. With 126 games for Slovakia, he brings a ton of experience and skills. Still, at 33, EURO 2020/2021 will more than likely be his last chance at glory with the national team, while delivering high-class performance. The other name that shines a bit brighter than the rest for Slovakia is Martin Škrtel. The centre back most known for his 8-year stint in Liverpool is still a giant for his national team, and if you want experience, here you have it.
Both teams might be able to defend themselves very well and a low scoring game is more than likely. Poland has the edge in the goal-scoring area though, and Slovakia would have to pull some giant rabbits out of the hat to win a point from this clash.
UPDATE: Slovakia's matches in 2021 bolster our idea of them facing issues in EURO 2020/2021, and they have performed as follows:
- Cyprus 0-0 Slovakia (WC qualifier)
- Slovakia 2-2 Malta (WC qualifier)
- Slovakia 2-1 Russia (WC qualifier)
- Slovakia 1-1 Bulgaria
- Austria 0-0 Slovakia
While the win over Russia was a nice scalp, Slovakia has struggled heavily - draws against Cyprus and Malta in important matches is simply not good enough. The preparation matches against Bulgaria and Austria have not been exactly sparkling either, but at least Slovakia has shown that they can play lock-down football and stop their opponents. There is little to suggest that Slovakia can challenge Poland right now despite shifting form for both.