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England can silence critics when it faces Slovenia at Euro 2024 to finish group stage

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — England plays Slovenia in its final Group C game at the European Championship on Tuesday. Negativity has surrounded Gareth Southgate's team following its unconvincing 1-1 draw with Denmark, but England still tops the group and has already advanced to the round of 16. Kickoff is at 9 p.m. local (1900 GMT) in Cologne. Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— England's 1-1 draw with Denmark has sparked heavy criticism of the team, despite it leading Group C. England qualified for the second round on Monday when Spain eliminated Albania 1-0. That guaranteed the English could, at a minimum, progress as one of the best third-placed teams.

— England beat Serbia 1-0 in its opening game.

— Winning the group would mean England faces one of the best third-placed teams from Group D, E or F.

— Slovenia, on two points, goes into the game knowing it could finish top or bottom of the group, depending on results.

— Slovenia has drawn against Denmark and Serbia.

Team news

— Southgate said Luke Shaw is still not available after missing the end of the season with a hamstring injury.

— Southgate may decide to make a change in midfield after experimenting with defender Trent Alexander-Arnold in a holding role. Conor Gallagher could partner Declan Rice instead.

— Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek was asked about the availability of striker Benjamin Sesko and said some of his players had undergone specialized individual training.

By the numbers

Harry Kane scored a record-extending 64th goal for England in the game against Denmark.

— Slovenia is playing in only its second Euros and is still waiting for its first win.

What they’re saying

— “We’ve got huge motivation. We haven’t played the way we want to yet and we have the opportunity to win the group. That could be very important.” — England coach Gareth Southgate.

— “When you play teams like Slovenia, you know what you are going to get. They are going to come at us, they are going to want to win the game, they are going to want to shock the world.” — England midfielder Declan Rice.

— “Perhaps England haven’t yet shown everything they’re capable of at this Euro. That might give them an additional push. We expect a very disciplined opponent with excellent individuals. We will have to play at our very best, maybe even go beyond ourselves, in order to claim a positive result.” — Slovenia midfielder Gorenc Stankovic.

— “We are still masters of our destiny, with all due respect to England, who are an outstanding team. This will be the biggest challenge for this generation of players. But I am sure it will not be the last. We have calmed the nerves after Serbia, we have analysed the positives and negatives from that match. We are ready.” — Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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

James Robson, The Associated Press