Oct 30 2010

Zilina 3-3 Dukla Banska Bystrica (with a look forward to Marseille)

Published by at 2:05 pm under Domestic,European and tagged: , ,

Jaromír Nohavica, Ostrava’s very own folk legend, played in Žilina on Monday evening. Nohavica sings about everything ; love, memory, friendship, bird flu, comets and classic Czech literature are just a few of his themes. He also likes his football and is a big fan of Baník Ostrava, his local side. So, needless to say, Monday’s concert was littered with references to the great game. ‘Greetings from the bottom of the Czech league to the Champions League,’ said Nohavica at the beginning of his performance. Later, during the encore, he delighted his audience by telling them how happy the entire Ostrava region was when Žilina beat Sparta Prague to progress to the Champions League group stages. ‘Don’t stop believing,’ he exhorted, ‘battle all the way and make sure you pick up some points.’ Then he launched into ‘Fotbal’, surely a candidate for best song ever written about the experience of being a supporter.

Get him in the changing room!

Nohavica would have been aware that, before turning their thoughts to this Wednesday’s Champions League match with Marseille, Žilina had two domestic games to deal with. They safely negotiated the first, Tuesday’s tricky Slovak Cup tie away to Senec. Next up were Banská Bystrica in the Corgoň Liga, a match moved forward to yesterday (Friday) evening.

Bystrica are rather a puzzle to me. Last autumn, largely thanks to outstanding performances from strikers Marek Kuzma and Dušan Uškovič, they outplayed Žilina at Štadión SNP. Sadly, neither Kuzma, who later moved to Slovan Bratislava, nor Uškovič, who stayed with Bystrica but has been in and out of favour, have really flourished since then. Bystrica finished a creditable third in the league last season but have had mixed results this time round and were in sixth place going into last night’s game. Looking at the league table before heading out to the ground, I was struck by the two sides’ defensive records. Both had conceded just nine goals in thirteen league games. Considering too that two of Žilina’s previous three home league matches had ended 0-0, I wasn’t expecting a high-scoring affair.

But high-scoring it was. Both sides played a fast, open game, both looked dangerous every time they attacked and both were alarmingly vulnerable defensively. Bystrica’s problem was their goalkeeper Peter Boroš, who never looked comfortable when high balls came into his penalty area. Žilina’s three goals all came from crosses that should have been dealt with but weren’t, Tomáš Oravec applying simple finishing touches each time.

In the opposite goal, Martin Dúbravka was largely blameless – certainly he had little chance with any of the Bystrica goals – but he was ill-served by central-defenders Jozef Piaček and Mario Pečalka, both of whom had poor games. Andrej Hesek matched Oravec’s first two goals before being replaced by Uškovič, who rounded off perhaps the best move of the match to equalise at 3-3 and complete the scoring.

It was an enjoyable 90 minutes and the fair-minded among the Žilina support will appreciate that, unusually for a team visiting the pod Dubňom in recent times, Bystrica gained fair reward for an enterprising display. The game has, however, clouded certain team-selection issues ahead of the Marseille clash. Piaček and Pečalka will probably keep their places, though both need to improve dramatically. Lubomír Guldan had another outing at right-back last night ; little surprise, then, that Bystrica’s left-sided midfielder Tomáš Hučko seemed to enjoy himself. Guldan should play in central midfield or not at all. The midfield showed plenty of creativity against Bystrica but neither Robert Jež nor Štefan Zošák are renowned for their defensive steel. With Issiako Bello still, apparently, injured, Guldan could take on the role of holding-midfielder. Up front, Oravec and Tomáš Majtán, who also has a recent league hat-trick to his name, should retain their starting berths. Momodou Ceesay had 35 minutes as Majtán’s replacement last night but things didn’t quite go right for him.

Off the field, it was good to have the fan-club back. They have clearly been rehearsing some new chants during their absence and supplied the atmosphere that was so badly lacking at the Dunajská Streda game. The attendance was still deeply disappointing, though. Officially, there were 3,418 there but it didn’t look as many as that to me. Meanwhile, the Marseille game, despite sensible ticket-prices, is still not sold-out. Continuing bitterness over the Chelsea prices and an increasing realisation that, even if they play to their full-potential, Žilina are out of their depth in the group stages are possible reasons for this.

But, in an attempt to retain some optimism ahead of Wednesday night, I have come up with a three-point plan which, if carried out, will ensure success :

  1. Do everything possible to make sure the fan-club attend.
  2. Invite Jaromír Nohavica into the dressing-room before the game.
  3. Do not play Guldan at right-back.

Prediction : Žilina 2 Marseille 1.

Written by James Baxter

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One Response to “Zilina 3-3 Dukla Banska Bystrica (with a look forward to Marseille)”

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