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[monks data]
Slovenia national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 16, 2024 at 5pm UK
Denmark national football team

1 - 1

Janza (77')
Stojanovic (53'), Celar (84')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Eriksen (17')
Hjulmand (49')

Preview: Slovenia vs. Denmark - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's European Championship clash between Slovenia and Denmark, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two Euro 2024 competitors with knockout aspirations in mind commence their Group C campaigns at the MHPArena on Sunday evening, as Slovenia and Denmark go head-to-head.

The teams convene in Stuttgart, where Matjaz Kek's men will bid to finally win a match at the Euros finals, while their Danish foes seek to emulate their luminaries of 1992.

Match preview

Slovenia's Erik Janza celebrates scoring their first goal on November 17, 2023© Reuters

Making an early case to be one of the surprise packages of this summer's tournament in Germany, Slovenia only missed out on top spot in qualifying owing to an inferior head-to-head points tally against Denmark, giving Kek's men an early incentive to go for broke on Sunday.

Nevertheless, a 22-point haul sufficed for second place in their preliminary section, propelling Slovenia back to the continent's premier international tournament for the first time since 2000, where they made their debut as an independent nation following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

That campaign 24 years ago ended with Slovenia bowing out in the group stage and failing to win any of their three contests, but the world's 57th-ranked nation have been laying down some early markers in competitive and non-competitive action, only suffering one defeat in their last 12 contests.

Furthermore, Kek has masterminded a six-match unbeaten run heading into Sunday's opening tie - a sequence which includes a 2-0 giant killing of one of the tournament favourites Portugal - as well as successes over the United States, Kazakhstan and Armenia.

A 1-1 draw with Bulgaria in their final warm-up friendly was nothing for the Slovenians to shout about, but that low-key stalemate at least extended their scoring sequence to an equally impressive 12 matches, and it would have been exactly a year since their last blank when they take to the field on Sunday.

The Slovenians' opening showdown at Euro 2024 will also mark the end of the second-longest cap between tournament appearances in history, as with 24 years in between European competitions, their wait can only be beaten by Hungary's 44-year absence from the top continental gathering.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand applauds fans after the match on June 5, 2024© Reuters

June 16, 2023 was the last time that Slovenia failed to fire in front of goal - going down 2-0 in Euros qualifying to Finland - although the latter's Scandinavian counterparts Denmark also have recent when it comes to outwitting their upcoming foes in 90 minutes.

Thirty-two years on from shocking the globe at Euro 1992, Denmark have both fond and frustrating memories of the delayed 2020 edition, where they reached the semi-finals and gave England a terrific run for their money before a torturous extra-time elimination.

Kasper Hjulmand's men failed to follow up that performance with a deep World Cup run - under-performing in Qatar with a group-stage exit - but the Red and Whites kept faith in their 52-year-old leader, whose side lived up to their first-placed expectations in qualifying.

There were a couple of chinks in the Danes' armour, though - evidenced by shock defeats to Kazakhstan and Northern Ireland - but since the turn of the year, the Red and Whites have had the look of a side who mean business at this summer's tournament.

Indeed, a goalless draw with Switzerland preceded a trio of straight wins over the Faroe Islands, Sweden and Norway for the Euro 92 champions, whose 1-1 stalemate and 2-1 beating of Slovenia in qualifying prolonged their unbeaten run against their unfancied foes to six from six.

Those encounters also include a pair of 1998 World Cup qualifiers - which the Danes triumphed in by an aggregate scoreline of 6-0 - a 3-0 friendly success in 2001 and 2-1 exhibition beating in 2008, forcing Slovenia to rip up the history books if their Euros campaign is to kick off on a positive note.

Slovenia form (all competitions):

Denmark form (all competitions):

Team News

Benjamin Sesko in action for Slovenia on October 17, 2023© Reuters

On the back of scoring five goals in qualifying and snubbing interest from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United to sign a new contract with RB Leipzig, 21-year-old attacking hotshot Benjamin Sesko headlines the Slovenia selection, which also includes former Atalanta BC star Josip Ilicic.

A former star of the free-scoring Dea side under Gian Piero Gasperini, Ilicic had endured an exile from the national team lasting nearly three years but made a magical return in the period of warm-up friendlies, scoring a late winner in the beating of Armenia.

However, the 36-year-old - now representing Maribor in his homeland - will likely lose out to Panathinaikos attacker Andraz Sporar for the second striker's spot alongside Sesko, while Atletico Madrid number one Jan Oblak sports the captain's armband in between the posts.

In terms of Slovenia's fitness situation, winger Benjamin Verbic was unable to complete the full training session on Wednesday and is a slight doubt, but right-back Peter Stojanovic has made a full recovery from the muscle injury that forced him to miss both of this month's friendlies.

Meanwhile, Denmark boss Hjulmand has already been forced to make one alteration to his final squad, as Galatasaray defender Victor Nelsson succumbed to injury and had to be replaced by Zanka, one of four Brentford players in the Red and Whites' ranks.

On a much brighter note, Christian Eriksen is fit and raring to go three years after his traumatising cardiac arrest at Euro 2020; the Manchester United man is the highest goalscorer in the current squad with 41 and second-most capped behind all-time record holder Simon Kjaer (132). Like Ilicic, Eriksen also sent his nation into raptures with a late friendly winner, sinking Sweden.

While the former Tottenham Hotspur playmaker is surely nailed-on to start, the same cannot be said of ageing defender Kjaer, while Bees midfielder Christian Norgaard missed training on Thursday for precautionary reasons but is expected to be fine for the weekend.

Slovenia possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Karnicnik, Blazic, Bijol, Janza; Horvat, Gnezda Cerin, Elsnik, Mlakar; Sesko, Sporar

Denmark possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Andersen, Christensen, Vestergaard; Maehle, Hojbjerg, Hjulmand, Kristiansen; Eriksen; Hojlund, Damsgaard

SM words green background

We say: Slovenia 1-2 Denmark

Throughout their qualifying competition and warm-up period, Slovenia showed that there are not to be taken lightly by any stretch, especially with the 6ft 5in Sesko ending the Bundesliga season as he means to go on with goals in seven straight matches.

However, Denmark had the Slovenians' number last year and should certainly have the beating of Kek's men in the middle of the park, so while it may not be pretty, Hjulmand's men should prevail.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Denmark striker Rasmus Hojlund on March 23, 2023
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Group A

Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121

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