Euro 2024: Romania and Slovakia meet in finely balanced Group E where a draw advances both

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Romania and Slovakia meet in the most finely balanced group at the European Championship. A draw on Wednesday would send both to the round of 16. The game on Wednesday kicks off in Frankfurt at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), at the same time as Belgium and Ukraine start in Stuttgart. Here's what to know about the match:

Match facts

— Any team in Group E can still finish in any position from first to last in the standings. It is the only group at Euro 2024 where each team won a game and lost a game in the first two rounds.

— One of Romania and Slovakia will be in the round of 16, and a draw will advance both. If so, Romania will be in the top two because of a superior goal difference to Slovakia. Slovakia would be third, and among the four best third-place teams advancing.

— “Biscotto” is the Italian word for biscuit that in soccer parlance means a game where two teams can contrive an outcome that suits them both. The most (in)famous example is West Germany’s 1-0 win over Austria at the 1982 World Cup where both teams effectively stopped playing after the 11th-minute goal. The “Disgrace of Gijon” game sent both through and eliminated Algeria. It ensured that at future tournaments the last round of games in a group is played at the same time.

Team news

— Slovakia defender David Hancko had been a doubt because of a hamstring injury against Ukraine, though coach Francesco Calzona could name the same starting lineup for the third time.

— Romania has no major injury concerns.

By the numbers

— Romania has lost 11 of its 18 games at Euros but never by more than 2-0. That record loss was matched in being beaten by Belgium on Saturday.

— The teams have not met in a competitive game for nearly 25 years, in a Euro 2000 qualifying group. A Romania team captained by Gheorghe Hagi won 5-1 in Slovakia.

— Slovakia forward Ivan Schranz is among the four players who have scored two goals at Euro 2024. The collective total of own goals was six through Monday.

What they’re saying

— “We must play to win. We will not be thinking that a draw could help us.” — Romania coach Edward Iordănescu.

— “We are the Cinderella story of the group stage.” — Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona.


AP Euro 2024:

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press