Skriniar and Slovakia look to ‘write history’ against vulnerable England

Francesco Calzona’s close-knit team have built a formidable rhythm with input from their former star Marek Hamsik

While England scramble around for cohesion, their next opponents have established a throbbing rhythm. Milan Skriniar prepared to offer his perspective on Sunday’s meeting but had to wait while the Slovakia kitman, Marek Kosan, took the floor. The camp had made a deal: if they progressed from the group stage he would have to publicly demonstrate his beatboxing skills. Kosan had no hiding place so played the captain in, accepting both enthusiastic applause and the unexpected consequences of success.

Slovakia hope a similarly pulsating display will break new ground on Sunday. They have never reached a quarter-final but feel rested and well prepared in historic Mainz, away from the crowds but only half an hour from the Frankfurt stadium where two of their previous games took place. The Gutenberg press and gegenpress were both born here: the latter comes to mind when Slovakia arrive to train at Bruchwegstadion, the atmospheric old ground where Jürgen Klopp made his name at Mainz.

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