Slovakia could be a tough nut for the world champions to crack on Sunday evening.
No team managed maximum points in the group stages, but Germany were one of four teams to pick up seven, along with runners-up in Group C, Poland, who the Germans beat only on goal difference. Joachim Low’s side are yet to concede a goal at this tournament, though they might wish they had as they’re certainly in the tougher half of the draw! Slovakia, meanwhile, fought hard for a goalless draw with England in their final group game to secure third spot in Group B with four points.
Germany struggled defensively in the lead up to the tournament as they managed one clean sheet in nine games before their opener against Ukraine, but when it comes to major tournaments they’ve only conceded two in their last 10 going back to the start of their triumphant World Cup 2014 campaign. However, Germany’s record against sides they’re ranked between 26 and 46 places higher than is just W4-D7-L3 since 2012 with just three clean sheets and they’ve conceded at least twice in half. As a result, 10 of these 14 games saw more than two goals, with eight seeing more than three.
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Slovakia continue to prove a tough team to beat as they’ve now only lost one of their last 11 games and they beat Germany 3-1 in Augsburg in a friendly in the lead up to this tournament. That was one of three wins that Slovakia have managed in their last six matches against top-10 sides as they beat Spain in qualification and also beat Italy in the 2010 World Cup. If we extend our search to top-15 teams, Slovakia are W4-D2-L3 since 2012 and they only conceded more than once in three of these games.
In fact, Slovakia have only lost one of their last 35 matches by more than one goal as Spain got revenge for their defeat in qualification with a 2-0 win back at home. Since this is the first time we’re having a last-16 stage at the Euros, there aren’t too many instances of sides with a similar ranking to Slovakia reaching the knockout stages. If we look at World Cup last-16 ties, sides ranked outside the top-25 have only lost three of their 14 matches against teams ranked above them by more than one goal since 1998. This, together with the fact that Germany only managed only three goals in qualification, with one of those coming very late on against Ukraine who were chasing an equaliser, means that we’re backing Slovakia to once again be difficult to beat.
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