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Calzona hopes Slovakia grit trumps England quality

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany : England have the best squad at Euro 2024 despite their struggles in the pool stages and Slovakia will have to limit their mistakes if they are to cause an upset in their round of 16 clash on Sunday, according to coach Francesco Calzona.

England failed to fire in their pool but still finished top of Group C and will be overwhelming favourites in Gelsenkirchen, where Slovakia will hope for another gritty, determined display to frustrate their opponents.

"When England give a great performance as a group, they will be unbeatable," Italian Calzona told reporters on Saturday. "We need to make the most of their mistakes and must be very careful, they have the best squad at the Euros.

"They have physicality, technique and creativeness and left excellent players at home because they have so much quality to choose from. This is a team that can punish you in any moment."

Key for Slovakia will be their midfield dynamo Stanislav Lobotka, who has two man of the match awards to his name in Germany and is the heartbeat of his side’s midfield.

He forms a potent threesome with 37-year-old Juraj Kucka and Ondrej Duda but is very much the conductor of the orchestra.

"He is an essential player for us, very intelligent," Calzona said. "In this game he will be matched against a world class player in Jude Bellingham, but Lobotka is also world class.

"We need to collectively have a great match though, the whole team, because Lobotka cannot do it on his own."

Calzona knows his side cannot match England man-for-man, so it will come down to the tactical discipline, fight and determination.

"The coach must convey his idea, but it is the players who play on the pitch. I am lucky because I have a very focused team, they want to play