Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Euro 2024: Ukraine seeks to bounce back against Slovakia after surprise opening loss

Sport

Euro 2024: Ukraine seeks to bounce back against Slovakia after surprise opening loss
Sport

Sport

Euro 2024: Ukraine seeks to bounce back against Slovakia after surprise opening loss

2024-06-21 00:45 Last Updated At:00:50

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — 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:

— 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.

— 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.

— 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.

— “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.

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

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. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

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. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

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. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

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. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Next Article

Lionel Messi exits Copa America final with apparent leg injury

2024-07-15 11:11 Last Updated At:11:20

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Lionel Messi's night ended early during the Copa America final when he emotionally exited the field in the 64th minute with an apparent leg injury on Sunday night.

The 37-year-old appeared to suffer a noncontact injury while running full speed on the pitch as defending champ Argentina remained in a scoreless match against Colombia.

Messi immediately looked toward the Argentina bench as he went to the ground. He remained down for several minutes as trainers came out. He was helped to his feet and immediately took his shoe off his right foot.

As he walked off the field, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner took off his captains armband and threw his shoe to the ground in frustration. An emotional Messi was then shown covering his face, sobbing in his seat.

Messi went down in the first half after landing awkwardly when chasing a ball out of bounds. He rolled over several times as he grabbed at his lower right leg. Trainers worked on the area for a few minutes before helping him to his feet. He walked slowly toward the sideline before returning to the game.

Messi had been dealing with a leg injury and discomfort through much of the tournament and missed Argentina's group stage finale. He had one shot attempt in the first half Sunday.

AP Copa America coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/copa-america

Argentina's Lionel Messi grimaces in pain during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi grimaces in pain during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi is assisted by medical staff during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi is assisted by medical staff during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi grimaces in pain during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi grimaces in pain during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi is assisted by medical staff during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi is assisted by medical staff during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi grimaces during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Argentina's Lionel Messi grimaces during the Copa America final soccer match against Colombia in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Recommended Articles