Euro 2012 Preview: Scotland v Spain & Slovakia v Republic Of Ireland

Given Scotland’s appalling display against the Czech Republic, particularly in the attacking department, Castrol Performance data shows that they could do far worse that including Blackpool’s Charlie Adams in the starting line up to face Spain tonight.

While you would expect Scotland to be under the cosh from the persistent Spanish team, Charlie Adams possesses the ability to catch Spain out on the counter particularly with his long range shooting ability.

Eleven of the 15 shots mustered by the former Rangers player this season have come from outside the box, which is not surprising considering that he held the record of most long-distance goals last season in the Championship (seven).

At the other end of the pitch and in contrast to what we have come to expect from Spain, the Scottish defence may be victims of an aerial onslaught as Castrol Performance research shows that 29 year-old Aritz Aduriz, called-up as a replacement for injured Fernando Torres, has scored more headed goals than any other player in the Spanish Liga this season.

The former Mallorca player has scored four goals in all competitions this term with his new club Valencia: all headers (three in La Liga and one in the Champions League). The Basque player has scored, on average, every 140 minutes this term in the league, a rate that none of his direct competitors can currently match. Fellow Spain striker Fernando Llorente may have been the match-winner against Lithuania with a brace on Friday, but Aduriz’ ability in the air makes him a potent alternative up front, especially against teams who defend in numbers and make short-passing in the final third of the pitch a difficult task.

Castrol Verdict:
Scotland win: 9%
Spain win: 71%
Draw: 20%

Slovakia v Republic Of Ireland

Castrol Performance research shows that Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady has been in impressive form in the Russian Premier League since making the move to Spartak Moscow in the summer, with the tricky wideman embarking on the highest number of dribbles per game (on average) in Russia’s top tier this season.

The 24 year-old attacker moved to Spartak Moscow after having spent his entire career at Celtic and hit the ground running. Indeed, McGeady has already been involved in three goals after just four appearances in the Russian top flight (one goal and two assists), displaying an impressive 100% shooting accuracy and completing 85% of his passes.

The skillful Irish international has also attempted a league-high 6.5 dribbles per game. In the 3-2 defeat at the hands of Russia in Dublin on Friday, McGeady was one of the home side’s better performers, firing in a game-high three shots on target, with one of those attempts leading to Shane Long’s goal for the Irish. The former Celtic man will also be central to the Republic’s chance of success against Slovakia, in a game which now has increased significance following the defeat at the Aviva Stadium.

Although Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik failed to shine in a more defensive position at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, his form at club level – three goals and one assist in the opening six Serie A match days – suggests he performs best when operating higher up the pitch.

The playmaker failed to score in South Africa, registering just seven touches of the ball in the opposition penalty area and managing to test the opposition goalkeeper with just 20% of his attempts. His current Serie A statistics, however, are far superior.

Indeed, he has racked up 31 touches in the opposition box (5.2 on average), and posted a 60% shooting accuracy. Overall in his 113 Serie A appearances, Hamsik has scored 33 goals, showing his potency when he gets into the box. In Slovakia’s shock 3-1 defeat by Armenia on Friday, Hamsik was still his side’s best performer, providing an assist and a game-high four goal-scoring chances in total. Slovak boss Vladimir Weiss will now be hoping his captain can inspire his side to victory against the Irish on the 12th, and get their campaign to reach Poland and Ukraine back on track.

Castrol Verdict:
Slovakia win: 45%
Republic of Ireland win: 27%
Draw: 28%