Archive for February, 2011

Feb 04 2011

Rangers v Hearts; Weiss v Kello, who impressed more?

Published by under European,Guest

As demonstrated here, Slovak footballers are certainly spread far and wide throughout European football.  It was 13 years ago that arguably one of the country’s best ever exports, Lubo Moravcik moved to Celtic and what a player he became North of the border.   Based on his legacy, you would expect compatriot and one of Slovakia’s best young talents, Vladimir Weiss to be welcomed with open arms by followers of the game in Scotland.

Certainly Weiss’ talent and potential was recognised early as Man City picked him up at the age of 16 from Inter Bratislava. Weiss made just one first team appearance for City and was loaned out to Bolton where a few decent performances started to make people take notice.  However he always seemed struggle with the physical side of the game, and never quite managed to fully establish himself, even at Bolton.

I for one thought Weiss new loan move to Rangers this season was a good one.  In Scotland there will still be matches of the intensity of the English Premier League but Weiss should be able to hold down a regular starting spot, get more time on the ball and start to show his class against some of the weaker opposition in the league.

What makes Weiss playing in the SPL even more interesting for followers of Slovak football is that both Dundee United and Hearts have Slovak goalkeepers on their books.  Andy Hudson travelled to Glasgow v Hearts and after a few beers last week agreed to pay a little closer attention to both Weiss and Marian Kello who is arguably the in-form keeper in Scotland at the moment and report back to the site.

I’m delighted to post Andy’s report and I’m sure Rangers fans will also have plenty to say on the form of Vladi Weiss this season, enjoy!

Vladimir Weiss is a player with a big reputation. Turning down Stuttgart, Sampdoria and Celtic to sign on loan for the Scottish champions, Rangers, Weiss was expected to have a storming season on loan. With this in mind I made the trip to Glasgow to see him in action for Rangers against Hearts.

The first thing I noticed about Weiss was his reluctance to ‘get stuck in’. On a wet and windy evening at Ibrox there were a number of meaty tackles flying around. Weiss seemed to avoid being hit through some neat, one touch, play. He played out wide and was relied upon to deliver quality free kicks.

The problem he had was that he drifted out of the game on a regular basis.Rangers were fairly poor, despite winning 1-0, so it may be that he suffered largely because of that and the inability his team mates to pick up a quick, passing game. There was a general feeling in the stands that he should have been getting in the mix a lot more than he was. What is a definite is that he has so far scored in a quarter of his appearances – 5 goals from 20 games is a good return for a wide midfielder.

The Slovak who did stand out at Ibrox was the Hearts ‘keeper, Marian Kello. Kello was selected in the Slovakia squad for the first time for the forthcoming match against Luxembourg. This was following a string of fine performances, especially in a victory against Rangers in January, that have seen Hearts rise up the table and at one stage being talked up as possible title challengers.

Although Kello wasn’t tested on too many occasions he organised his defence well, communicating with them throughout, and displayed safe handling in difficult weather conditions. His kicking was suspect at times, though the wind was a contributing factor, but considering his confidence in coming off his line the opinion of him can definitely be classed as positive. At the age of 28 he’s coming up to the prime years of his career and has already played almost as many games this season as he has in the previous two seasons when he was on loan from FBK Kaunas. A call up to the national team and continuing the improved performances that has turned him into a Hearts favourite could see Kello enjoying a fine, if slightly delayed career.

As mentioned by Andy, Weiss & Kello will be teammates next week as they meet on Monday in Luxembourg ahead of Slovakia’s next friendly game on Wednesday.  Britski Belasi will of course be reporting on their, and the rest of the squad’s performances, although one hopes it will be Weiss who is the busier of the two in that match.

Andy is a passionate football traveller and writer.  Check out his excellent blog Gannin’ Away and be sure to follow him on Twitter, right here.

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Feb 02 2011

Brno v Ruza

Published by under Czech Republic,Guest

Cross-border friendlies are common between Czech & Slovak teams as preparations for the 2nd half of the season continue. Yesterday afternoon, Brno based Ralph Davies went to see a match between two teams looking for a drastic improvement in domestic form once the real business starts again:

Brno V Ruzomberok

The winter break is far too long in the Czech Republic for those of us who need a regular fix of live football. The chance of seeing a new look Zbrojovka Brno face a MFK Ruzomberok side sitting 9th in Corgon Liga was too good an opportunity to miss and after hastily rearranging my afternoon appointments, I was on my way to the Brno training centre just outside the city.

Police Station? No, it's a training ground.

It has been an interesting couple of months at the Metske Stadion. In December, the Zbrojovka owner, Roman Pros, introduced a lie detector to the club. New signings will take the test to see if „the athletic performance has not been negatively influenced from the outside“. Pros insists that this is normal practice at any place of employment,however I don’t know of anybody who has had a polygraph test.

Soon after this was announced, Brno released many of their senior players. Coupek,Polach and Trousil have since joined Dubnica and Martin Lejsal has left for FK Rostov in the Russian League, while Karel Vecera has invited players from all over Europe and beyond to try their luck and to improve the fortunes of the Moravian side.

In fact the first conversation I overheard in the clubhouse was an Italian agent discussing the terms of a contract for Marco Migliorini, a young Italian defender who had obviously impressed the management to be offered a deal. I would have got the details if they hadn’t spotted me eavesdropping .

Ruzomberok are managed by Serb Goran Milojevic, one of the few footballers to play for both Red Star and Partizan Belgrade before spending the majority of his playing career in Spain. In 2006 with Jan Nezmar, Erik Jendresik ,Marek Sapara and Igor Zofcak in their side they did the league and cup double. Fast forward to 2011, under Milojevic and they are stuggling at the bottom end of the league.

Friendly matches in the Czech Republic are hardly crowd pullers (I counted a crowd of 18 men, 1 lady and a dog), those of us who braved the conditions were treated to a goal fest with Brno running out 4-1 winners .

Attendance: 19 + 1 dog

Both sides used the game as an opportunity to experiment with tactics and their line-ups and I wouldn’t read too much into the scoreline, as Ruzomberok played the neater football and the result somewhat flatters us.

Zbrojovka opened the scoring in the 5th minute. Marosi whipped in a free kick which was fumbled by Penksa in the Ruza goa,l leaving Martin Jilek with the simple task of poking the ball home. In 19th minute the Slovak team drew level, the skillful Hoferica weaved his way into the penalty area and scored from what looked like a impossible angle. Midway through the first half Brno regained the lead, Bulgarian trialist raced down the left wing, cleverly skipping past his marker and put in the perfect ball for Marek Strestik to lash home from just inside the penalty box. As the referee blew for half-time, the entire crowd made a rush for the warmth of the clubhouse. Both sides made several changes in the 2nd half and it wasn’t long before Brno increased the lead.

Memories of good times at Brno

Zilina transfer target, Kalabiska neatly chesting down and volleying home after a knock down from Simersky. Rabusic added a fourth from the penalty spot after former Nitra winger Robert Valenta was bundled to the ground.

And that is how it finished. Jaroslav Kostelny, Marko Radic, Tomas Dubek all impressed for Ruza, while Simersky , Rabusic and Valenta showed enough talent to suggest that Brno may actually get out of the mess they are currently in.

We like Zbrojovka Brno here on the site and will hopefully be hearing more about how they get on in the 2nd half of the season as well as welcoming Ralph to Slovakia for more football days out.

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Feb 01 2011

Slovakia Squad for Luxembourg

Published by under International

The Slovak National Team are due to play a friendly match away in Luxembourg next week, and Britski Belasi will be there, complete with flag, if any other Slovak fans happen to be going and recognise us.

Britski Belasi On Tour!

Latest info I have from the Luxembourg FA is that there will be no separate visitors section and tickets are available from the main office on the day of the match.

Here’s the squad selected for the match:

Nominated Slovakian football team, match against Luxembourg (Wednesday, 9 Feb at 20.15 h, Stadium Josy Barthet in Luxembourg):

Goalkeepers Marian Kello (Hearts / SCO.) Ján Mucha ml. (Everton / ENG)..
Defenders: Marek Cech (West Bromwich Albion / ENG.), Jan Durica (Lokomotiv Moscow / Rus.) Hubočan Thomas (Zenit St. Petersburg Rus.), Peter Pekarik (VfL Wolfsburg / Nem.) Mário Pečalka (MSK Zilina) Martin Skrtel (Liverpool / ENG.) Radoslav Zabavník (1 FSV Mainz / GER)..
Midfielders: Miroslav Karhan (1 FSV Mainz / Germany.), Juraj Kucka (Genoa / Tal.) Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce / Tur.) Vladimir Weiss ml. (Glasgow Rangers / SCO.) Erik Jendrišek (SC Freiburg / Germany.) Marek Hamsik (Napoli / Tal.).
Forwards: Frantisek Kubik (ADO Den Haag / Hol.) Adam Nemec (1 FC Kaiserslautern / GER.) Tomas Oravec (MSK Zilina).

As an ADO Den Haag fan, I’m delighted to see Frantisek Kubik in the squad.  He missed ADO’s first match back after the winter break through injury, but hit fine form in Sunday’s 5-1 victory against Excelsior including a superbly taken goal.  Here’s hoping Kubik gets a start against Luxembourg.

Also, I’m struck by the strength of the squad.  Coach Vladimir Weiss is obviously serious about getting all the senior players together and sees this match as important preparation for breaking down weaker opposition ahead of the next two vital Euro qualifiers against Andorra where anything less than 6 points may spell the end of Slovakia’s hopes for Euro 2012.

Interesting selection in goal, with Marian Kello coming from nowhere after a great performance in the Hearts goal recently against Rangers. Jan Mucha unfortunately has not been playing at Everton this season, and Dundee United’s Dusan Pernis is only a reserve.

The defence and midfield is a strong selection, very similar to the World Cup squad, although it is interesting to see Kornel Salata dropped just after his move to Russia.  James Baxter was obviously right about his dip in form and Weiss claims he needs time to get used to his new surroundings in Russia.

The attacking selection is interesting.  Attacking options in this squad appear limited considering the strength of the opposition and the current uncertainty over Slovakia’s attacking preferences.  I suppose you can say Erik Jendrisek offers an extra option, and I must admit I don’t know much about Adam Nemec [he only made 1 previous appearance for Slovakia], but I am surprised at the omission of Stanislav Sestak and Jakub Sylvestr [who are reserves].  Weiss claims that he wants to use stronger, more direct physical players against Andorra where he expects a poor quality pitch.   Robert Vittek [who's transfer to Red Bull Salzburg went through 1 minute too late last night] and Filip Holosko miss out through injury.

MSK Zilina’s Tomas Oravec and Mario Pecalka are the only domestic based players in the squad, although I would like to mention midfielder Viktor Pečovská of Dukla Basnka Bystrica who, albeit only as a reserve, gets his first recognition from the National Squad.

The squad meet on Monday, direct in Luxembourg, Frantisek Kubik, for one, will be pleased about that!

Slovenkso do toho!

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Feb 01 2011

Tipsport League: Inspiration for joint competition?

Earlier in the month, we posted some coverage of the Tipsport League, a semi-friendly tournament which has been ongoing throughout the lengthy winter break in the Czech & Slovak Republics.

Opinion and interest amongst our readers and twitter followers was mixed, a fairly common consensus was for people to see the tournament as offering an interesting scouting window and at least some footballing action during the winter break.   The opportunity is there to see new players who may be on trial at certain clubs, or promising youngsters able to better show their skills on the artificial pitches rather than the often heavy, poor quality grass pitches at clubs’ main stadiums.  However at the majority of matches, crowds remain sparse and mainstream interest is perhaps diminished by the non-participation of some of the bigger clubs from both countries.

The tournament concluded this weekend, with domestically 6th placed Slovak side ViOn Zlate Moravce losing 3-1 in the final to Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic.

Sigma celebrate with the Tipsport Trophy

It was a surprise to see ViOn in the final, but indeed good that a Slovak team made it all the way.  MSK Zilina presumably had to field a very weakened team in their 1/4 final against ViOn with the majority of their senior squad otherwise engaged in another friendly club tournament being held in Dubai.

ViOn, who were only promoted to the Corgon Liga last season and are still very much in the mix for qualification for European football, will have been pleased with the experience and also receive a modest financial reward for their endeavours.  They are currently just one point behind Slovan in the league and have [what should be considered] a big Cup semi-final against MSK Zilina to look forward to.  With a modest, but attractive and modern ground, Zlate Moravce might be one of the Slovak teams on the up in the next few years.

ViOn: 2nd Place in the Tipsport

What is interesting about the Tipsport League is that is does regenerate debate on the idea of a combined competitive competition for football clubs in the Czech & Slovak Republics.  This has been proven by a fairly mainstream media article published on one of Slovakia’s biggest news sites yesterday discussing this very topic and publicising the competition.   One point raised by the Sigma Olomouc coach Zdenek Psotka is very much in line with my own personal thoughts.  While a complete federal league is probably fairly ambitious at this stage [not to say I don't dream of it in the future], a slightly more competitive and comprehensive cup competition would surely be a good starting point and generate more interest than the cup competitions currently on offer in the two countries.

What form this will take and how it will be driven [by sponsors and clubs or by the respective federations] and what support it would get from UEFA, remains to be seen, but with positive reports coming from this season’s Tipsport League, maybe it could continue to evolve and grow.  Besides, the current format with the participation of seven Slovak clubs is still relatively new.  It was only 2004 when MSK Zilina became the first Slovak team to take part in this competition.

I guess the big challenge for the Tipsport League is to attract a few more of the bigger names of Czech & Slovak football, some of whom, such as Slovan Bratislava, Sparta & Slavia Prague appear to prefer their own private winter-break schedules.  Also, with the matches being played on artificial training pitches, usually with just one stand along the side, the scope for bigger crowds is also not really there at the moment.

It is more than feasible that I’m wrong on a few of my points above, maybe they don’t want all the big teams in the tournament and maybe they don’t intend on attracting bigger crowds.  Certainly some of the scenes from matches involving Spartak Trnava would vindicate that stance.

As regular readers will know, here on the blog, we like to generate debate and look at a few different ideas, especially where the merger of competitive Czech & Slovak football is concerned!  For that reason I would be interested to hear the official mission statement from the Tipsport organisers and perhaps a vision of how they see the tournament evolving.

Britski Belasi says; give us a cup competition involving all Czech & Slovak 1st and 2nd Division teams and a Europa League place at stake for the winner, and just see what happens!

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