Slovakia players celebrating their 1-0 victory over Belgium in Euro 2024.

Belgium 0 Slovakia 1: A First Major Euro 2024 Upset

The Euro 2024 tournament saw its first major upset when Slovakia defeated Belgium 1-0. This result shocked many, as Belgium is ranked third in the world while Slovakia is 48th. The match, played on June 17, 2024, showcased Slovakia’s tactical brilliance and resilience, leading to one of the biggest surprises in European Championship history.

The Significance of the Upset

Belgium entered the match as heavy favorites. Their squad is filled with talented players, while Slovakia, led by coach Francesco Calzona, were clear underdogs. The victory for Slovakia was a historic moment, marking their rise in international football. Calzona’s calm and strategic approach played a crucial role in this success, demonstrating that with the right tactics, even the biggest teams can be challenged.

Tactical Approach of Slovakia

Calzona’s tactics were key to Slovakia’s victory. The team mirrored the style of Napoli, where Calzona previously worked as an assistant. Slovakia employed a 4-3-3 attacking structure and a 4-1-4-1 defensive setup. This system relied heavily on the experience of their midfield trio: Stanislav Lobotka, Ondrej Duda, and Juraj Kucka. Their combined age and over 200 international caps provided a solid foundation for the team’s strategy.

Slovakia’s high pressing game disrupted Belgium’s rhythm. They targeted Belgium’s right-footed winger, Yannick Carrasco, who was playing out of position at left-back. This move hindered Belgium’s build-up play, forcing them to rely on individual brilliance rather than cohesive team play.

Key Players and Performances

Several Slovakian players delivered standout performances. Ivan Schranz scored the only goal of the match, capitalizing on a mistake by Belgium’s defense early in the game. Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka also played a pivotal role, making crucial saves despite some inconsistent distribution. The midfield trio of Lobotka, Duda, and Kucka controlled the game, maintaining high pass accuracy under pressure.

For Belgium, Romelu Lukaku was the main attacking threat. However, he had two goals disallowed by VAR, one for offside and the other for a handball in the build-up. These decisions were significant in the outcome of the match, leaving Belgium frustrated and unable to find an equalizer.

Impact of VAR Decisions

VAR played a crucial role in this match, particularly with the introduction of UEFA’s new ‘snickometer’ technology. This technology, similar to what is used in cricket, helps detect whether a player has touched the ball, especially with their hand. The technology was used to disallow Lukaku’s second goal, showing that Lois Openda had handled the ball in the build-up. These VAR interventions were critical, ensuring the integrity of the game but also adding to the drama and controversy.

Looking Ahead

This victory puts Slovakia in a strong position in Group E. They have a realistic chance of advancing to the knockout stages, especially with weaker opponents like Ukraine and Romania left to play. Slovakia’s performance against Belgium showed their potential to cause more upsets in the tournament.

For Belgium, this loss is a significant setback. They need to regroup quickly to avoid another early exit, similar to their disappointing World Cup 2022 campaign. Their next matches are crucial, and they must address their tactical issues and improve their cohesion to advance in the tournament.


The match between Belgium and Slovakia was a testament to the unpredictability of football. Slovakia’s 1-0 victory, a significant upset in Euro 2024, highlighted the importance of strategy, experience, and resilience. As the tournament progresses, both teams will look to build on this match, aiming for success in their respective campaigns.


Also Read: Managing Emotions and Control in Euro 2024: Key Highlights and Analysis |Instagram



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