Belarus v. Slovakia – European Championship Qualification – Group C – 10.12.2014
Slovakia will look to keep its perfect record intact when they travel to Minsk to take on the winless Belarus in European Championship Qualification – Group C action .
Anchored by Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel, Slovakia’s defense has been solid – only conceding two goals in their last seven games in all competitions. Slovakia beat a very good Ukraine away in the first round of matches, before shocking defending EC champions Spain 2-1 at home two days ago. Belarus, on the other hand, drew with a very weak Luxembourg side 1-1 on the road on Matchday 1, and most recently lost to Ukraine 0-2 at home.
Slovakia has been especially lethal on the counter, as shown in the win against Spain. Spain had most of the possession in the game with their pass, pass “tiki-taka” style of play. Slovakia sat back after taking the lead in the 17th minute. Spain then tied the knot in the 82nd minute, but Slovakia scored on the break late in the game in the 87th minute to win it. Slovakia has some good quality players in Marek Hamsik and Miroslav Stoch. They will be flying high with confidence, knowing they beat one of the best teams in the world in Spain.
Pick: No one expected Slovakia to get off to such a great start, but I don’t see them slipping now against Belarus – as they have already beaten much better competition in Spain and Ukraine. Having just one point to their name thus far, Belarus must play to win – so it will be an open game. Slovakia will get their chances off the break, where they have been very dangerous and efficient. In fact, I am confident that Slovakia will keep a clean sheet in the encounter, and will wager on A team is scoreless at -135 (5Dimes) and Slovakia at +123 (5Dimes) to win. Final score prediction: 1-0 or 2-0 Slovakia.
Ukraine v. Macedonia – European Championship Qualification – Group C – 10.12.2014
Ukraine will look to ride their momentum after defeating neighboring Belarus on Matchday 2, when they host European minnows Macedonia in Group C action.
Ukraine surprisingly lost to Slovakia at home in the first round of matches, but in hindsight that doesn’t look as bad now, as Slovakia has proven that they are no fluke after beating the defending European champions Spain. Ukraine bounced back on Matchday 2 with a crucial win against Belarus in Minsk, to stay in contention in the group. Macedonia was crushed by Spain 1-5 on Matchday 1, before barely beating Luxembourg 3-2 at home two days ago on a late 92nd injury time goal.
Pick: The fact that Macedonia struggled against lowly Luxembourg at home, and conceded two goals to them, does not exude much confidence. Macedonia’s defense is just downright horrible, and to make matters worse for them – their best player Agim Ibraimi is out with an injury – so they will have trouble creating chances. Ukraine has some quality players in Rotan, Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka, and Zozulya- and are levels above their opponents. Ukraine must not get complacent, if they want to keep up with Slovakia and Spain in the group. Ukraine should easily win the match, and I will take them to win by more than a goal at -1.5 +106 (5Dimes). Predicted score: 2-0 or 3-0 Ukraine.
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