Jan 26 2011

Mario Pečalka: Hapoel bound, or is he?!

Published by at 1:24 pm under Domestic and tagged: ,

Hapoel Tel Aviv fans have contacted us asking for some info on transfer target Mario Pečalka.  Although still sceptical as to whether the move will happen or not, James Baxter, Zilina season ticket holder has very kindly agreed to tell us all about Pečalka ..

This is especially for you, Hapoel Tel Aviv fans, in case Mario Pečalka becomes your player. Žilina’s website is not, at the time of writing, reporting that Pečalka has left the club, nor is Slovakia’s sports daily, Šport. One website, www.zoznam.sk, says the move could happen, though, so let’s assume, for now, that it is going to. Anyway, I’m perfectly happy, as a Žilina fan, to tell you a little about Pečalka.

Pečalka first signed for Žilina from Slovan Bratislava in 2004. He spent the 2006/2007 season on loan with Slovan’s city rivals Inter and has been with Žilina since his return from that temporary spell. He has a few international caps for Slovakia and was one of just three home-based players included in the 29-man pre-World Cup squad last summer. Sadly, though not unexpectedly, he was one of the seven players left out of the final 22. In the early stages of his Žilina career, he played as a holding midfielder but is now generally used as a central defender.

Pečalka’s main qualities are aggression, speed, anticipation and a readiness to carry the ball forward from defensive areas. His weakness is a tendency to impetuosity. He sometimes dives into challenges when there is no real need, either allowing attackers to skip past him or giving away free-kicks. He is not above a little intimidation either. Opponents always ‘know he’s around’ and one or two have been bullied out of games completely. Pečalka should have been shown a straight red card during Žilina’s 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in a 2008 UEFA Cup following a vicious hack at Ashley Young. A Villa supporting friend of mine was still seething about that challenge several weeks later. Another friend, who attended one of Žilina’s autumn home games with me, observed that Pečalka went into several aerial challenges with his forearm planted firmly, and deliberately, in his oppenent’s back. If Hapoel need an enforcer, then, you could certainly do worse, but I have a feeling that, if the refereeing is strict in Israel, it will be Pečalka who has to mind his step.

I will declare my interest here and say that Pečalka is not my favourite Žilina player. This is not because of any objections to his physical approach. I think it’s more because, despite his (relatively) long association with the club, he wasn’t part of the team that won the Slovak league title under Pavel Vrba in 2006/2007 and gave all Žilina fans such joy. Pečalka might have fitted seamlessly into that side but, for me, Benjamin Vomačka and Tomáš Hubočan were slightly better central defenders and Zdeno Štrba was a marginally better (and more skillful) holding midfielder. And I would worry less if Pečalka left now than I would if Robert Jež departed. Pečalka has natural replacements in the current Žilina squad but there are few players like Jež in the whole of Slovakia. Jež, by the way, was in that 2006/2007 team.

On balance, though, I think that, if Pečalka does join Hapoel, he will do well, especially if they need what he can give. He has Champions League experience now as well. It hasn’t all been positive – he played in the infamous 0-7 defeat to Marseille in this season’s group stages and was as abject as every other Žilina player – but he was magnificent in the home game against Chelsea. Žilina might have lost that one 4-1 but the goals were largely due to the inadequacies of the rest of the defence. Without Pečalka, the result would have been a lot worse.

So there we are. Whatever the truth of all these rumours, good luck Hapoel and good luck Mario.

James Baxter

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Mario Pečalka: Hapoel bound, or is he?!”

  1.   Dani Moranon 26 Jan 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you for an insightful report
    Hapoel fan

  2.   noamon 26 Jan 2011 at 3:05 pm

    great report. thx for the info.

  3.   Roion 26 Jan 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I Think he can do good for hapoel if we make him feel confidence.

  4.   Nahumon 26 Jan 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Very interesting and a great read. Thanks!

  5.   Eyalon 26 Jan 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks a lot!

  6.   its-sickon 26 Jan 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for the insight. I think he’ll be just fine for the Israeli league, where most teams are not that impressive. I hope we will spend more money than that next year when we play in Europe again.

  7.   James Baxteron 26 Jan 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for reading guys. If you get him, please do let us know how he does.

  8.   Yoson 26 Jan 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Thanks for all the interesting info. I hope that he will do better in Israel…

  9.   Arielon 26 Jan 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks for the report. it’s written wisefully and it’s full of info.
    Hapoel Fan

  10.   MBon 26 Jan 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Great report, very professional. Thanks alot.

  11.   Slovakia: 10 to Watch | Britski Belasion 05 Feb 2011 at 6:44 pm

    [...] comes Mario Pečalka. I feel I can pass him over this time, having already written at length about him when Hapoel Tel Aviv seemed on the verge of landing his signature last week. Pečalka is followed by [...]

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