The German defense looked unbeatable in the group stage of Euro 2016, but they’ll face a tough test in Slovakia with a berth in the quarterfinals on the line.
The Slovaks were the last team to score against this German squad, all the way back in a tournament warm-up game which ended in a surprising 3-1 Slovakian win. Since, Germany has been perfect at the back, with a trio of clean sheets so far.
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That defense is tasked today with dealing with Slovakia’s danger man Marek Hamsik, who scored the winner against Russia in the group stage and assisted the other. Hamsik was kept quiet during the final group stage match, a 0-0 draw with England, and the pairing of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels will be tasked with stopping his progress forward again.
Meanwhile, the vaunted German attack has sputtered. Thomas Muller, he of World Cup superstardom, has not scored a single goal in eight career European finals matches. Mario Gotze has struggled up front as well, on a streak of five straight competitive matches without a goal, and has been replaced in the starting lineup by Julian Draxler.
A quirk to this game could be the pitch at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. The grass was torn to pieces during the group stage, so the field was completely torn up and replaced with grass brought in from the Netherlands. Neither team was allowed to train on the field the day before the game.
Germany – Neuer, Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector, Khedira, Kroos, Muller, Ozil, Draxler, Gomez.
Slovakia – Kozacik, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Gyomber, Kucka, Hrosovsky, Skriniar, Hamsik, Weiss, Duris.