The Slovenia Times

In historic first, Slovenia in knockout stage at Euro 2024

Slovenia celebrate qualifying for the knockout stage after a goalless draw against England in game 3 of Euro 2024. Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Slovenia have beaten the odds and qualified for the knockout stage at the Euro 2024 after a goalless draw with England in game three in Group C on 25 June, a historic first for the team.

With three points from three draws, Slovenia finished third in Group C and qualified as one of the best third-placed teams.

They have an identical point and goal record as Denmark, but Denmark are second due to their superior disciplinary record. England top the group with five points.

The England fixture was arguably the game of the lifetime for many Slovenian players.

Slovenia had played in one Euro before, in 2000, and in two World Cups, in 2002 and 2010, but had always failed to progress beyond the group stage.

"I don't even know what the final minutes were like. These feelings are just phenomenal," goalkeeper Jan Oblak, the team captain, said after the game.

"We suffered a bit during the game, but you quickly forget this. We're elated, proud and satisfied. We didn't come to Germany just to play, we came to do something and luckily we have succeeded in advancing," he said.

Coach Marjaž Kek acknowledged that the game was tough and the players may have been too passive at times. However, the bottom line is that the team proved its mettle in three difficult games with three stronger opponents.

"We've proved that we belong here, perhaps in our own way, but we belong here nevertheless." "All of us, including the captain, said we don't want to be tourists here. This is what gave us the drive," he said.

Slovenian fans celebrate at Ljubljana's Pogačar Square after draw against England.

The game against England was tactical and defensive. The two teams were roughly on equal footing in the first half, though England looked more disorganised than the Slovenians.

In the second half England showed why they were the favourites and mounted a much stronger and sustained push on the Slovenian goal, to the point that the ball was in the Slovenian half virtually the entire time, but the Slovenian defence held strong.

In the second Group C game, Denmark and Serbia played a goalless draw as well.

Next, Slovenia will face Portugal in the round of 16 in Frankfurt on 1 July.


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