The second game of today features group B encounter between Wales and Slovakia. There are numerous similarities between the sides as they are competing in the European Championships for the first time and both rely on their world class players entering the game, Wales were powered into the finals by the goal scoring exploits of Gareth Bale while Napoli’s Marek Hamsik was the star for Slovakia in qualifying.
Both these teams were dubbed as ‘one man teams’ during qualifying and will now need to start playing to their potential. Wales’s preparation going into the tournament was not ideal as they were defeated 3-0 by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden while slovakia will come in full of confidence as they had a decent run in the friendlies including a 3-1 win against the world champions Germany.
The last time these two teams met , a 17 year old Gareth Bale scored his first International Goal in a 5-2 win for the Welsh which made him the youngest goalscorer for his country. In the same game, Marek Hamsik won his fifth international caps , both these players have since gone on and become Superstars at their respective clubs.
Wales qualified for the finals finishing second behind tournament favourites Belgium while Slovakia also qualified as group runner ups in a group featuring Spain and Ukraine.
As far as the squads are concerned, Wales will be relying on their premier league stars Wayne Hennessey , Ashley Williams , Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey and manager Chris Coleman will be hoping that midfielder Joe Ledley is fit after breaking his leg in may.
Slovakia on the other hand are without their record goal scorer Robert Vittek and will hope that Marek Hamsik puts yet another inspirational performance from the midfield.
The 1996 croatia team were the last debutantes to qualify from the qualifying round and both these teams need to be on top in all the 3 games if they are to qualify for the next round and in doing so the Wales team will probably give the perfect tribute to the late Gary Speed.