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Scouting report: Benjamin Sesko star high quality means Slovenia aren’t sight-seeing at Euro 2024 in Germany | Soccer Information

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Matjaz Kek gained only one cap for Slovenia as a participant however throughout two spells as supervisor of the nationwide crew the previous Maribor defender is having a much more important presence.

Victory over Algeria on the 2010 World Cup is their solely success at a serious event and got here underneath Kek, who launched into his second stint in 2018 and has engineered the newest qualification.

Participation in Germany will mark solely the fourth main worldwide event for the previous Yugoslav republic, who’ve been taking part in as an impartial entity since 1992.

In addition to Euro 2000, the place they drew two video games and misplaced the opposite within the group part, Slovenia additionally certified for the World Cup in 2002 and 2010 however have but to transcend the group stage.

This time spherical they are going to be hoping to make extra of an impression in Group C the place they meet qualifying rivals Denmark first in Stuttgart on June 16 after which Serbia and Euro 2020 runners-up England.

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“We’re a comparatively younger nationwide crew and the potential is big,” Kek instructed the media. “There are fairly plenty of gamers who’ve come by way of the youth ranks and are already now senior regulars.

“Jaka Bijol has developed right into a incredible participant, [as has Adam] Gnezda Cerin. It makes you suppose that we can’t have to attend one other 24 years and even 12 to 13 years to qualify for our subsequent massive competitors.

“I am satisfied that Slovenia will not be at [Euro 2024] to do sightseeing. We’re not going there as vacationers. We’re going there to compete. I need the fellows to be aggressive and they’ll take that perspective. Why ought to we not take into consideration progressing by way of the group stage?”

How did they qualify for Euro 2024?

Jan Oblak has made over 300 appearances for Atletico Madrid
Jan Oblak has remodeled 300 appearances for Atletico Madrid

Slovenia made probably the most of a beneficial draw within the qualifiers for Germany 2024 to succeed in their second European Championship, 24 years after their debut look on the event.

They misplaced solely twice as they completed second in Group H, degree on factors behind Denmark and forward of Finland, Kazakhstan, Northern Eire and San Marino, to ebook a spot on the finals.

Slovenia collected seven wins and 22 factors in qualifying, each information for them in a serious event qualifying marketing campaign.

Who’re Slovenia’s key gamers?

Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko is regarded as one of the best young talents in Europe
Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko is thought to be top-of-the-line younger skills in Europe

Kek, 62, leads a crew with little in the way in which of expertise, save for captain and goalkeeper Jan Oblak, however with a number of thrilling prospects.

The most effective of the lot is 20-year-old ahead Benjamin Sesko, who scored 5 targets within the qualifying marketing campaign.

“He’s the fashionable striker par excellence. I do not know the place he’ll play subsequent season, he’ll determine however, for now, I will take pleasure in him this summer time,” Kek instructed Italian reporters.

Nicknamed 'The Octopus of Skofja Loka', 31-year-old Oblak can expect a busy tournament
Nicknamed ‘The Octopus of Skofja Loka’, 31-year-old Oblak can count on a busy event

“We’re speaking a couple of bodily robust centre-forward who has made nice progress additionally technically, month after month.

“He got here to [the national team] when he was only a lad: a 17-year-old boy, and since then I’ve been watching him develop into a person. He has grow to be a vital a part of the crew. Regardless of his youthfulness, he carries a type of vitality – the character of a diligent boy who would practice day and evening to attain his objective.

Do you know?

Slovenia might be making their second look on the UEFA EURO, their first participation relationship again to 2000. 24 years equals the second longest hole between two appearances on the event, the longest belonging to Hungary (44 years).

“Infrequently, I’ve to cease him a bit and calm him down: it is simply the superb vitality [that he has]. He is sort of a magnet, and such a Positive one. It’s clear that his likeability and splendid public appearances are making it recognized to little girls and boys that there’s a lot of labor, coaching, and sacrifices behind this [success].”

The 31-year-old Oblak is thought to be top-of-the-line keepers in world soccer and in his 10 seasons at Atletico Madrid has gained the Europa League and been to the Champions League closing. However it is a first main event for him.

What are their probabilities of reaching the spherical of 16?

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Linked with Premier League golf equipment and set to face England for Slovenia – watch all of Benjamin Sesko targets for RB Leipzig within the Bundesliga this season.

Escaping Group C would characterize success for a nationwide crew with out a nickname.

A return to the Euros after a prolonged absence is a supply of a lot delight for the Slovenes and a 2-0 win over Portugal in a March pleasant may have made opponents sit up and take discover.

“We’re blissful, delighted, and proud. It is well-deserved for this technology of footballers; they’ve restored religion in Slovenian soccer,” added Kek.

Do you know?

At EURO 2000, Slovenia didn’t win a single recreation (D2 L1) while Zlatko Zahovic scored three of their 4 targets. It included drawing the opening match 3-3 towards FR Yugoslavia, after having been 3-0 up. It’s the one time a crew has didn’t win a EURO match after having led by 3+ targets.

A triumphant return at a European Championships would more than likely coincide with a profitable event for Sesko, who offered two assists to accompany these 5 targets in 9 qualifying appearances – probably the most targets and assists mixed of any Slovenian participant.

All seven of these objective involvements got here in his 5 house video games, so he might want to present he can produce the identical output on international soil.

The excellent news is that the event is going down in Germany, the place he plies his commerce with RB Leipzig.

The 21-year-old ahead scored 18 targets in all competitions for Leipzig final season, together with targets in every of the final seven Bundesliga matches of the marketing campaign.

Matjaz Kek insists Slovenia aren't going as tourists
Matjaz Kek insists Slovenia aren’t going as vacationers

It has sparked loads of curiosity from Premier League golf equipment, together with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United however uncertainty surrounding his instant future has been put to mattress.

Sesko was stated to have a launch clause in his deal that will have made him accessible for £55m till the top of June. He has now signed a brand new contract with the Bundesliga membership.

Benjamin Sesko's heat map and shot map for RB Leipzig in his debut Bundesliga season
Sesko’s warmth map and shot map for RB Leipzig in his debut Bundesliga season

Comparisons have been drawn with Erling Haaland, who additionally performed for Purple Bull Salzberg earlier than dipping a toe within the Bundesliga, Haaland at Borussia Dortmund and Sesko at Leipzig.

Sesko performed his manner into the German facet’s beginning 11 within the second half of his debut season, and his 14 targets in 31 league matches helped clinch a Champions League berth for Leipzig.

The ahead, who was eligible to play for both Slovenia or Bosnia & Herzegovina – his mom was born within the latter – has scored 11 targets in 28 internationals since making his debut in 2021.

Arsenal appear to be in pole position for Benjamin Sesko

Sesko has downplayed comparisons to Haaland, whereas saying his boyhood hero was former Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is identical peak.

“Personally, I do not suppose a lot of comparisons,” Sesko stated after signing for Leipzig.

“Erling is a completely world-class striker. I take pleasure in watching his video games on TV and clearly take note of what he does in numerous conditions within the recreation however as I’ve already stated I’m a totally completely different kind of participant.”

View from Slovenia: Followers have massive expectations

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Sky Sports activities soccer journalists Ron Walker and Joe Shread analyse the specter of Slovenian goalscorer Benjamin Sesko who was on the needed lists of many Premier League golf equipment.

Sky Sports activities senior soccer journalist Peter Smith spoke to Damir Krznar – who’s head coach of Slovenian champions Celje – concerning the nation’s probabilities of success on the event.

“It isn’t so widespread to succeed in a Euros or World Cup so there may be actual euphoria,” stated Krznar. “You possibly can really feel it in each city in Slovenia. They actually imagine of their crew. The group is kind of good for them. And the gang count on so much.

“That they had Denmark within the qualifying group. It was not equal for certain. Denmark, particularly in Denmark, was one step forward, they have been the higher crew. However in Slovenia it was a draw, to allow them to count on so much.

“They count on so much within the recreation towards Serbia. They imagine that they will go the group and every little thing after that’s fairly a bonus for them.

“Slovenia is tactically and, as a bunch, a harmful crew, for certain.”

What system will they play?

“All through the qualifiers they performed 4-4-2,” says Krznar. “This capabilities very properly. Defensively, they’re very steady, with Oblak within the objective, with good construction. Each crew had an issue with them in offensive elements. In order that they’re superb in defensive form they usually attempt to minimize all the good things from the opponent crew. And so they’re fairly profitable in that.

“Offensively they’re quick and from this defensive block they are often very harmful.”

Can Slovenia exploit England’s left-hand facet?

Zan Karnicnik will form part of Slovenia's right side
Zan Karnicnik will kind a part of Slovenia’s proper facet

“Zan Karnicnik will play at proper full-back,” says Krznar about his Celje defender. “I exploit him extra at left full-back. He is a superb participant within the offensive part. Defensively, he can have some issues however he is a really intelligent man and might stop one-on-one conditions.

“He’s good in making selections when he assaults and when he runs again, he waits for help, so he is an excellent participant. And what is excellent for him, in entrance of him, as a winger, he has [Petar] Stojanovic, who can be initially a full-back and that’s the place he performs in Italy for Sampdoria.

“Kek makes use of him within the nationwide crew as a winger. In order that they’re an excellent crew on this facet with Karnicnik and Stojanovic. They have been each superb through the qualifying marketing campaign.”

Fairytale finish for Ilicic?

Josip Ilicic has emerged from the depths of depression
Josip Ilicic is again within the nationwide crew after struggling melancholy

Krznar has beforehand coached Josip Ilicic throughout their time collectively at Maribor. The 26-year-old has re-emerged from a time away from the sport with melancholy, starring for Maribor again in his homeland after which making a goal-scoring return to worldwide responsibility final month. He’s now part of his nation’s closing 26-man squad for the Euro 2024

“He is like new spring,” stated Krznar. “He rises once more. Wonderful participant. All people is aware of him from Atalanta. He is an enormous participant, nice participant, and this spring he was for certain participant primary in the entire league [Slovenian PrvaLiga for Maribor].

“He reached a superb degree. I am so blissful for him. I hope he is usually a superb shock for Slovenia within the event as a result of for him 10-Quarter-hour is sufficient to remedy the sport.

“His particular person high quality is, possibly, the standard of high 20 in all of Europe. It is solely concerning the bodily, the timing, however, he is additionally a really intelligent man. Tactically, very sensible man. Good in ending however in assists much more.”

Full Slovenia squad

Goalkeepers: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Vid Belec (APOEL), Igor Vekic (Vejle).

Defenders: Petar Stojanovic (Sampdoria), Jaka Bijol (Udinese), Miha Blazic (Lech Poznan), Jure Balkovec (Alanyaspor), Zan Karnicnik (Celje), David Brekalo (Orlando Metropolis), Erik Janza (Gornik Zabrze), Vanja Drkusic (Sochi).

Midfielders: Timi Max Elsnik (Olimpija Ljubljana), Jasmin Kurtic (Sudtirol), Benjamin Verbic (Panathinaikos), Sandi Lovric (Udinese), Adam Gnezda Cerin (Panathinaikos), Jon Gorenc Stankovic (Sturm Graz), Tomi Horvat (Sturm Graz), Adrian Zeljkovic (Spartak Trnava), Nino Zugelj (Bodo/Glimt).

Forwards: Josip Ilicic (Maribor), Andraz Sporar (Panathinaikos), Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig), Zan Celar (Lugano), Jan Mlakar (Pisa), Zan Vipotnik (Bordeaux).

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