Slovakia players celebrate after teammate Slovakia's Ivan Schranz scored the...

Slovakia players celebrate after teammate Slovakia's Ivan Schranz scored the opening goal during the Group E match between Belgium and Slovakia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. Credit: AP/Themba Hadebe

DUESSELDORF, Germany — Slovakia faces Ukraine on Friday in Duesseldorf in their second Group E match at the European Championship. Slovakia is second to Romania on goal difference, and Ukraine is last. Romania and Belgium play on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— Ukraine had a shock 3-0 loss to Romania that included costly errors from Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. Another loss could mean elimination for Ukraine, which was a quarterfinalist in 2021.

— Ukraine's players apologized to their fans for the Romania loss, and held a team meeting in the locker room after that game without coach Serhiy Rebrov present to work out what went wrong. That was “absolutely normal,” the coach said Thursday.

— Slovakia is riding high after surprising Belgium 1-0 but needed two video reviews to overturn Belgium goals. One was deemed offside and a sensor in the ball detected a handball on the second.

— The Slovakians know not to get too excited by an opening win. At the last European Championship they beat Poland but then lost to Sweden and Spain and didn't advance. That meant there was only “a bit of euphoria for a few short hours” when Slovakia beat Belgium this time, coach Francesco Calzona said.

Team news

Ukraine's Mychajlo Mudryk sits on the pitch after a Group...

Ukraine's Mychajlo Mudryk sits on the pitch after a Group E match between Romania and Ukraine at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Munich, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. Credit: AP/Sven Hoppe

— Ukraine coach Rebrov indicated he will make changes to the lineup which lost to Romania. He also said some unnamed players were carrying “micro-injuries."

— Ukraine defender Vitaliy Mykolenko sustained severe bruising in a pre-tournament friendly with Moldova and was an unused substitute against Romania but was expected to train with the team Thursday evening, Rebrov said.

— One option for Rebrov could be to replace 34-year-old captain Taras Stepanenko with the 22-year-old Volodymyr Brazhko in defensive midfield. Brazhko debuted for the team only in March as Ukraine qualified for Euro 2024 through the playoffs.

— Slovakia coach Calzona says his players are all available but he has yet to decide on his starting lineup.

By the numbers

— The average age of Slovakia's starting lineup in the win over Belgium was over 30 as the team relied on the experience of two 37-year-olds, defender Peter Pekarik and Juraj Kucka, and the 35-year-old goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. Ukraine's players against Romania were on average four and a half years younger.

— The teams have a fairly even record, with three wins for Slovakia, two for Ukraine and three draws. Slovakia won their last game 4-1 in 2018.

— A second win would make history for Slovakia, which has never won more than one game in any tournament it's played as an independent nation. As part of Czechoslovakia, it did win the 1976 European Championship, though.

What they’re saying

— “We want to turn the page and concentrate 100% on the Slovakia game... (The Romania game) is a very painful result for us but we need to learn the lessons and get ready for tomorrow’s game.” — Ukraine left back Oleksandr Zinchenko.

— “I think our greatest quality is humility. We know that we always need to give 110% because we’re a small nation and we always want to put a big smile on the faces of our fans and our people.” — Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona.

— “Ukraine has wonderful, young, talented players. They have a good system, they’re strong on the ball. ... We must play to the best of our abilities to be able to beat them.” — Slovakia defender David Hancko.

More soccer news


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.