Slovenia tonight against the worst national team in the world: only victory in mind, but respect for the opponent no matter what
Matjaž Kek celebrated his 62nd birthday on Saturday. Today, the Slovenian national team can give him the best possible gift: the next three points in the intense battle for a place at the European European Championships 2024 in Germany. Anything other than a win tonight would be a big surprise, hand on heart. A sensation, if you like.
will take on the worst team in the FIFA rankings. It will compete against amateurs who do not compete in football, but only participate. They manage to win a game here and there, but it’s easier to find a three-feathered clover than to correctly predict a San Marino victory. So it’s clear: Slovenia is only facing a slightly tougher training session after a tough game against Northern Ireland. San Marino must fall. At any cost.
“We need to build on what we showed against Northern Ireland in the attacking phase, and at the back we need to hold on without conceding a goal and win the three points,” he said before leaving for the Serravalle, where the match will take place will kick off at 20.45, Slovenian selector Matjaž Kek, who is aware of the expectations related to this match, will make it clear: “It’s a game where you are the favourite and you have to justify that role. The training session will show the state of the squad after the Northern Ireland game, as several players are affected. Expectations are, normally, linked to winning. But the team has come so far that it knows that everyone needs to be respected. But in this group, something is also being asked of us. We are the ones who decide about ourselves. So I expect a quality, tactically disciplined Slovenia, no matter how many players we replace..”
Šporar: “No more easy matches”
Slovenia broke the resistance of their opponents for a long time in their first match against San Marino in Ljubljana, but Matjaž Kek says it was not because the opponent was so good. “This was so for our own sake. They play the way they play. It took Denmark a while to score as well, so you have to stick to some principles in the game, be focused and determined. But if you accept their rhythm, you can get into trouble,” recalls Matjaž Kek, while Andraž Šporar, two-time scorer against Northern Ireland, added: “There are no easy games anymore, but the quality is simply on our side. We need to score as soon as possible and win the three points. As I said, there are no easy games, but we are favourites and we need these points.”
It is expected that there will be a few changes in Slovenia’ s line-up, but Matjaž Kek, expectedly, did not want to talk about the starting line-up. Anyway, in Serravalle it will start at 20.45, if around 23. If there is no goodwill in the Slovenian dressing room, Slovenia’s Euro 2024 mission will be seriously jeopardised. But given who will stand on the other side, that’s not really to be expected…