Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland preview, team news, kick-off, live on Sky

Watch Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm or follow in our dedicated match blog on Sky Sports website and app; Watch in-game goals and free match highlights shortly after full-time

Wednesday 7 October 2020 16:35, UK

Team news and stats ahead of Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland in the European Qualifying play-off semi-finals live on Sky Sports (kick-off 7.45pm).

Stephen Kenny is still searching for his first win as Republic of Ireland manager, but his side are unbeaten in all five of their previous matches against Slovakia. But four of these have been draws with the other a 1-0 win in March 2007.

Should the Republic of Ireland win, they could set up a meeting with Northern Ireland in the European Qualifying play-off final on November 12.

The Republic of Ireland’s last single-leg play-off match in qualifying for the European Championships was back in December 1995 – the first time play-offs were introduced – losing 2-0 to the Netherlands at Anfield in Jack Charlton’s final match in charge.

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It is also the first time Slovakia are playing in a play-off round in qualifying for a major tournament since November 2005, when they lost 6-2 on aggregate to Spain and were eliminated in their quest to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.


Team news

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka remains out with an injury for Slovakia with Michal Duris also sidelined with concussion. Pavol Safranko has been called up to replace him. There are also doubts over key midfielder Stanislav Lobotka, who remains in quarantine after two first team players at his club Napoli tested positive for coronavirus.

Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman looks likely to miss out after limping out of Everton’s 4-2 Premier League win over Brighton on Saturday. with Blackburn defender Darragh Lenihan a certain omission with a knee injury.

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Josh Cullen – who joined Anderlecht from West Ham on Deadline Day – has been called into the squad to replace Harry Arter, who is sidelined with a thigh injury. Cyrus Christie has also been called into the squad for Coleman and Burnley centre-back Kevin Long replaces Lenihan.

A member of the Republic of Ireland’s backroom team has tested positive for coronavirus in the run-up to the game, but this has not had an impact on plans to travel to Slovakia for Thursday’s game.

How to follow

Republic of Ireland

Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm; Kick-off at 7.45pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game goals in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

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What the managers have said

Slovakia manager Pavel Hapal: “We have been following our Irish opponents for almost a year, they had a change of coach. They were probably not happy with the last match against Finland. It is a typical English style of football, tenacious and aggressive players. They are strong from set-pieces, nothing easy awaits us.”

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny: “It’s a tough game. We have got to go out to Slovakia. They have good home form and are a very consistent and experienced team, but the other side of it is it’s a tremendous opportunity for us.

“We know the opportunity that does exist and the possibility of the European Championship in Ireland is unique, really. It’s never happened before and may never happen again. So there’s that kind of motivation to lift the country. It would be an incredible experience for the whole country.

“But we’re a long way away from that because we’ve got a tough game in Slovakia and that’s only a semi-final. We’ve got to do something extraordinary and win away from home again, and we’re planning with everything we have to try to achieve that.

“We’ll approach the game in a positive frame of mind. We’re unlikely to be cautious, I would say.”

Opta stats

  • Slovakia have kept just two clean sheets in their last 17 matches in all competitions, although they have only failed to score on four occasions in that run.
  • Ireland have won just one of their last 11 away matches in all competitions (D6 L4), winning 1-0 at Gibraltar in March 2019.
  • Slovakia’s 20-year-old striker Robert Bozenik has scored three goals in his last four appearances in European Championship qualifying.
  • No Republic of Ireland player has scored more than once in Euro 2020 qualifying so far, with their seven goals all scored by different players (including one own goal). David McGoldrick has had 22 of their 99 shots in qualifying but scored just once.

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