Euro 2016: Slovakia’s Martin Skrtel knows opponents England inside out
The 31-year-old centre back has played more than 300 games in the Premier League since he joined Liverpool in 2008 and knows most of the English squad inside out.euro 2016 Updated: Jun 20, 2016 15:43 IST
Slovakia defender Martin Skrtel has plenty of inside information on England to impart.
Still, nobody’s asking.
The 31-year-old centre back has played more than 300 games in the Premier League since he joined Liverpool in 2008 and knows most of the English squad inside out.
“Of course I’m happy to answer questions, but they did not ask,” Skrtel said ahead of Monday’s final Group B game at Euro 2016. “I know them well, but my teammates know them well, too. We’ve been watching the English games many times, and we know them well.”
At Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Skrtel will be facing some of his club teammates at Liverpool, including midfielders Adam Lallana, James Milner and Jordan Henderson, as well as striker Daniel Sturridge. He said he would not hesitate to stop Sturridge by any means if it meant winning the game.
“Obviously yes,” Skrtel said, smiling, when ask if he would “kick” Sturridge. “We can be friends before the game or after but on the pitch there are no friends. If it means to kick him, I have to.”
Skrtel also has a good knowledge of England coach Roy Hodgson, having played under him when he was manager at the Merseyside club. Hodgson lasted just six months at Liverpool before getting fired.
“Obviously, the time he spent at Liverpool we were not successful as a team,” the centre back said. “But in my eyes he is a quality manager. He has done a great work with England, winning every single game in qualifiers.”
Playing in their first continental tournament as an independent nation since Czechoslovakia split in 1993, the Slovaks would likely reach the knockout stages with a point against England. Slovakia has three points in Group B, the same as Wales. England leads the group with four points, while Russia has one.
Skrtel labelled England “one of the best teams in the world” and said fighting spirit will be essential.
“We showed character against Russia already,” he said. “Our team is not about the personalities, obviously, but we have (playmaker) Marek Hamsik. And I think the main strength of the team is the team itself. We are walking together and it’s our big strength.”