Teamwork will see Slovakia past England, Captain Skriniar Says

England’s reliance on individual talent and the pressure they will be under to win will provide Slovakia with an opportunity for a major upset in their European Championship last-16 clash in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday, said Slovak captain Milan Skriniar.

England underwhelmed in the pool stages but still topped Group C, while Slovakia finished third in a Group E in which all four teams finished with four points.

Centre-back Skriniar believes while England may have better individuals, Slovakia can counter them with their work as a collective.

"In my opinion, they rely on individual quality and they know that they have players who can decide matches for them," Skriniar told reporters on Friday. "That's why I think we can handle them through teamwork."

Skriniar added the pressure will be squarely on the English, and that has already affected how they have played at the tournament in Germany.

"Even in the first match (a 1-0 win for England over Serbia), they went in with the fact that they are England, and they have to manage things in terms of results.

"The media and fans (have been critical) after their matches, so they will be under much more pressure than us. It can work in our favour."

England have an array of talented attacking players and Skriniar admits all 11 on the pitch for Slovakia will have to perform their defensive duties, starting from the forwards.

Having said that, they will not just sit back and will aim to take the game to England.

"The defensive phase will definitely be important, we have to start defending from the attackers. But the key is to play football," Skriniar said.

"We have to show them that we can play. Let them know that they are up against a team that knows what it wants."

Slovakia won the Euros in 1976 as part of Czechoslovakia, but since becoming an independent state in 1993 they failed to reach the finals for the next 23 years.

After qualifying in 2016 they went out to Germany in the last-16, and then in the pool stages at the 2020 finals.

The side has been led by 55-year-old Italian Francesco Calzona for two years, his first job as a head coach, and relies heavily on their accomplished midfield trio of Stanislav Lobotka, who already has two man of the match awards this tournament, 37-year-old Juraj Kucka and Ondrej Duda.

Kucka is one of a trio of vastly experienced players in the squad along with right back Peter Pekerik (also 37) and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (35).

When Slovakia named the trio in their opening game against Ukraine, they were only the second team in Euros history to select three players aged 35 or older in the starting line-up after France in 2008, who had Gregory Coupet (then 35), Claude Makelele (35) and Lilian Thuram (36).