Germany coach Joachim Loew is fully aware of the challenge Slovakia will present his world champions in Sunday’s Euro 2016 last 16 clash following their shock defeat in May’s friendly.
An inexperienced German team suffered a self-confidence sapping 3-1 defeat to Slovakia in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly last month when Loew fielded four new caps.
Germany took an early lead in Augsburg through a Mario Gomez penalty before play-maker Marek Hamsik, Michal Duris and Juraj Kucka hit three goals for Slovakia without reply.
Now Loew expects a battle royal on the newly-laid pitch in Lille for a place in the quarterfinals against either defending champions Spain or Italy.
“We lost to Slovakia at the end of May, so we know what’s coming,” said Loew, whose side has yet to turn in a convincing display in France despite winning Group C.
Slovakia qualified third from Group B by holding England to a goalless draw after beating Russia 2-1 and losing by the same margin to Wales.
But Loew says Jan Kozak’s Slovakia will have to show their attacking prowess against the Germans after frustrating the Three Lions in Saint Etienne.
“Now the opponent is going to have to do something or they know they’ll be going home,” warned Loew.
“It’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the knock-out stages,” added the Germany boss, who expects to see more attacking football in the last 16.
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger could make his first start of the European championships finals after cameo appearances off the bench, including a late goal in the 2-0 group win over Ukraine.
“Basti is in good condition, he is getting better each week and he’s slowly getting to the level where he can help us from the start,” said Germany’s assistant coach Marcus Sorg.