Archive for August, 2010

Aug 11 2010

Slovakia v Croatia: 1:1, 11.08.10

Published by under International

Although domestic coaches probably won’t agree, Vladimir Weiss and Slavan Bilic will leave this friendly match content that they have had a productive session with their squads ahead of the European Championship Qualifiers. Slovakia took on Croatia in their first match since the World Cup on this busy night of friendly international football. The match was played at the now slightly infamous Pasienky Stadium in Bratislava, the scene of Slovan Bratislava’s glorious night against Crvena Zvezda 6 days earlier.  At least the floodlights stayed on for the duration and the match was played in front of a decent enough crowd, probably in the region of 4,000 including a few hundred Croatians.

Slovakia have managed to retain the services of Vladimir Weiss as coach and his team contained several of the players who made quite an impression in South Africa where they exceeded expectations by defeating Italy on route to reaching the last 16.  The side, now ranked 27th in the world by FIFA, unfortunately feature just one home based player, Kornel Salata of Slovan Bratislava.  Jan Mucha, now at Everton played in goal and Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel was in at the back.  The two promising 20 year-olds Miroslav Stoch and Vladimir Weiss Jr were playing with relatively free roles in the midfield. Marek Hamsik started on the bench.

The first half was a dull affair, typical of friendly matches, in my experience.  Croatia dominated possession but created little.  The only serious shot they managed was a speculative long-distance effort from Tottenham’s Niko Kranjcar. Slovakia played some nice free-flowing football at times, but didn’t quite have enough penetration up front, the only shot on goal in the first half coming after some neat play from Miroslav Stoch following a slip-up by Kranjcar in the Croatian defence.  Stoch and Weiss were struggling against the physical presence of the Croatian defence and Holosko made no impression at all as the lone striker in the way that Robert Vittek managed in South Africa.

Slovakia’s star man Marek Hamsik entered the fray at half time, and immediately the match had a different feel to it.  The added pace in the game since the introduction of Hamsik paid off for Slovakia just 5 minutes after the re-start, when Miroslav Stoch created an opening for himself and shot from the edge of the box past 2 defenders and the keeper to score his 2nd international goal.  Just 4 minutes after Stoch’s opener, Croatia had their equaliser, a well delivered corner from Rakitic eventually headed in by another half-time substitute, Nikica Jelavic, Slovakia sleeping in defence.

Slovakia's players congratulate goal-scorer Miroslav Stoch after his 50th minute goal

Slovakia's players congratulate goal-scorer Miroslav Stoch after his 50th minute goal

Robert Vittek, scorer of 4 goals at the World Cup came on mid-way through the 2nd half and immediately tested the keeper with a stinging shot from 20 yards.  Unfortunately for him, no sooner had the corner been taken, he was hobbling back to the substitutes bench, pulling up with what looks like a thigh injury, Marek Cech of West Brom the replacement.

The early excitement of the 2nd half started to peter out and the game meandered to a conclusion with no further addition to the scoring. Petric of Croatia created one chance from a cross from the right which produced an excellent save from Jan Mucha the like of which Everton fans will be hoping to see more of this season at Goodison Park.  Slovakia were struggling with players out of position having made a few too many substitutions before Vittek’s injury.  Another Croatia chance created by Eduardo, formally of Arsenal, now at Shaktar Donestk, was scandalously missed by goalscorer Jelavic.

Slovakia pretty much continued where they left off in South Africa with some neat interplay between some skillful players, and a solid enough defence.  Where they are still slightly lacking is with penetration in the final third and Weiss has more work ahead of him to get the best out of his players throughout the qualifying campaign.  Slovakia (and his club, Ankara in Turkey) will be hoping that the injury to Robert Vittek is not too serious, and could do with conjuring up another top class striker from somewhere.  The quality of Stoch and Weiss is there to see, alongside Marek Hamsik, and in my opinion if Slovakia are to qualify strongly and eventually make an impression in neighbouring Poland and Ukraine in 2012, these boys really need to be playing regular first team football for their clubs.

Overall, both teams should be satisfied with this result, and stand realistic chances of making it to Euro 2012.  However they will both have to be at their best throughout the qualifying and cannot really afford any slack results early on in the campaign.  Slovakia’s first qualifying match is at home to Macedonia on 3rd September.

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Aug 10 2010

Slovan v Crvena Zvezda, 05.08.10

Published by under European

The months of July and August have been traditionally considered football-free, presenting an opportunity for football fans to concentrate on other areas of their lives. However we all know times are changing and for the supporters of many football clubs around Europe some of the biggest games of the season are played during this period. Some really intriguing fixtures get pulled out of the UEFA pots when the draws are made for Champions League and Europa League qualifying. The pairings which are generated through this lottery process offer grounds for excitement way beyond what the domestic game can offer in many countries, especially in Eastern Europe.  This was a momentous night,  Read the full article including pictures from the terraces here:

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Aug 09 2010

Strong start to the season for Slovan & Zilina.

Published by under Domestic

So far everyone associated with the two biggest clubs in Slovakia, Slovan & Zilina must be feeling pretty pleased with how this season has started. 10 points each from 4 matches in the league, and success for both clubs in Europe means there is a real feeling of optimism ahead of the weeks to come.  A huge achievement from Slovan overcoming Crvena Zvezda in the Europa League coupled with a real opportunity for Zilina to make the Champions League group stages means that even though it’s early days, there are signs that domestic football in Slovakia is on the up. Champions MSK Zilina look like providing very tough opposition once again for Slovan at the top of the table and arguably remain favourites to retain their title. Both clubs progressed impressively in European Competition last week and the articles from the latest Britski Belasi tour will be posted soon. Slovan will still be kicking themselves after losing a 2-0 lead away at Zilina a couple of weeks ago in the league, especially as the club from the north of the country appear to go from strength to strength, their latest result a 5-1 victory over decent opposition in FC Nitra.
Spartak Trnava a well supported club from 30km NE of Bratislava are also keeping with the early pace in the league, but the other 2 teams who qualified for Europe last season, Dukla and Nitra are probably demonstrating the gulf in quality between the top 2 or 3 and the rest, struggling in the league and already out of Europe.
Whether DAC Dunajska Streda manage to survive the season remains to be seen, the club which is in financial turmoil has so far recorded 0 points from 4 matches, a record matched only by Tatran Presov.

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Aug 04 2010

European Double Header: Belasi on Tour

Published by under European

Bags packed, tickets secured, travel itinerary finalised; Britski Belasi is set to embark on a trip to watch the 2 top Slovak teams in European action on home soil this week.

Slovak Football Tickets

Slovak Football Tickets

MSK Zilina will be confident of their chances of progressing to the Champions League playoff round, bringing a vital away goal into their match against Litex Lovech of Bulgaria, 1-1 the result from the away leg. The Zilina coach wants the fans to create a “green-yellow hell” and I for one can’t wait to experience the atmosphere inside the Pod Dubnom stadium. Although big rivals of Slovan, it would be great for Slovak football if Zilina could become the first Slovak club to qualify for the Champions League group stages since Artmedia in 2005. The match takes place tonight in Zilina at 19:30.
Arguably one of the most enticing fixtures of the round for fans of Eastern European football is the tie between Slovan Bratislava and Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade). Slovan gave the 300 travelling fans a night to remember in the Marakana securing a 1-2 away victory, so the tie, and qualification for the Europa League playoffs really is theirs for the taking. Extra security measures have had to be implemented  ahead of the match at the Pasienky stadium kicking off at 20:30 on Thursday.  After a final inspection yesterday, the game has been given the go-ahead. There had been some doubt surrounding security ahead of this match, trees have been cut down, and the fences surrounding the pitch extended to 2.20m due to the high risk classification of this fixture. Some 2,400 tickets have been sold to Crvena Zvezda fans, and if this many make it into the stadium, it promises to be an unforgettable night, both on and off the pitch.
Britski Belasi is wishing both Slovak clubs the best of luck, and will be back with full photo articles in a few days.

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Aug 02 2010

‘Inter’ Bratislava?

Published by under Domestic

I’ve always had an interest in kits & other club football memorabilia, especially limited edition lines, or unique items with a bit of character.  So at the end of last season, when Slovan entered an indoor tournament in the Czech Republic and brought out a new kit especially for it, I was straight in line to buy mine.

Limited Edition Slovan Shirt

Limited Edition Slovan Shirt

Growing up as an Aston Villa fan, I couldn’t miss out on this new claret and blue Slovan Bratislava shirt (although it has been pointed out to me it looks more like Burnley colours).

The kit manufacturer has been changed this season from Nike to Adidas and with that came a new home shirt reverting from last season’s simple sky blue shirt to an old classic of sky blue and white strips.  What grabbed my attention more though was the kit worn by Slovan in their Europa League qualifier away at Crvena Zvezda:

'Inter' Bratislava?

'Inter' Bratislava?

Purist Slovan fans are asking why they have gone with this blue and black striped design, to which the club doesn’t seem to have any answer apart from stating the change in kit manufacturer.  To me there is a certain irony in this story.  I think people would agree that this kit is more than slightly reminiscent of that worn by a well-known Italian club. Their namesakes in Slovakia, Inter Bratislava ceased to exist in Spring 2009 when they were sold to FK Senica, a new club who then took Inter’s place in the top flight, leaving the capital with one fewer top flight club.  This season, Slovan can no longer play at their own stadium and have had to take up residency at Pasienky Stadium, the former home of .. Inter Bratislava!

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