Apr 14 2011

Corgoň Liga Round 26 Preview / Review

Published by at 8:15 am under Domestic and tagged:

I think I performed a decent PR service for the Corgoň Liga earlier this week when I wrote, on www.sfunion.net, that it features a three-way title race which will offer plenty of twists and turns over the coming weeks. What I failed to mention was that the goals have dried up. Of last weekend’s six fixtures, two finished as 0-0 draws and three more as 1-0 home victories. Those who turned up in Trnava to see Spartak defeat Prešov by the odd goal in three should think themselves lucky.

It may be, of course, that the tight situation at the top of the league and a far from resolved relegation battle are causing teams to adopt a defensive mindset. If that is true, we should not expect many goals this weekend either, since all games will have some bearing on matters at one or other end of the table.

First up is DAC Dunajská Streda v Senica on Friday evening. Senica will be looking to consolidate their two-point lead over second-placed Žilina and ought to be confident of doing so against a home side that appears to be in the midst of a particularly chaotic free fall. Threatening coach Mikuláš Radványi with the sack has, unsurprisingly, failed to arrest DAC’s slide so now their board have decided to appoint a sporting director, in the form of ex-Prešov coach Roman Pivarník. Neither Pivarník nor Radványi appear to know exactly what their responsibilities are but have made an unconvincing sounding agreement to divide the work between them. Expect confusion to reign in the DAC camp and Senica to go home with the points.

Saturday’s early game sees Dubnica take on Trnava. Dubnica remain three points adrift at the bottom of the table despite several encouraging performances over the last three weeks, including draws with each of the top three. Their problem is a chronic inability to convert attractive football into goals and thus draws into wins. Trnava, meanwhile, have off-field difficulties which culminated in a fan-club boycott of last week’s game against Prešov. Is this Dubnica’s chance to finally record that elusive first spring victory?

Neither MFK Košice, just one place above Dubnica, nor MFK Ružomberok, a further two places and four points ahead, can feel safe from relegation just yet. Their meeting on Saturday, therefore, promises to be a nervous, low-scoring affair. Košice were unlucky to lose to a late, spectacular Nitra goal last week, while Ruža, under new-old coach Ladislav Jurkemík (he was sacked last October but brought back a fortnight ago), recorded a narrow win over DAC and a second successive clean sheet.

A goal feast is also unlikely at Zlaté Moravce where Vion face Prešov. Vion are perfectly safe in mid-table but, lacking the creativity of injured captain Peter Kuračka and short of mobility up-front, they will probably continue their emphasis on defensive solidity. Prešov, five points clear of Dubnica, look just about good enough to stay up and should see this fixture as an opportunity to earn at least a draw.

Nitra, who looked in big trouble just a month ago, will travel to Žilina relatively free of worries. With ten points from their last four games, three of which were against the bottom three, they have banished fears of relegation. History suggests they could do well on Saturday too ; they were the only team to win at Žilina in the league last season and the only one to earn a point there during Pavel Vrba’s 2006/2007 title-winning season. As for Žilina, the only goals they have conceded in their last five league and cup matches are the three awarded to Slovan Bratislava by the SFZ disciplinary committee last week. On the down side, they have struggled painfully going forward, failing to create a single decent chance at Banská Bystrica last Saturday. One prediction I will make for the Nitra game is that, if Žilina fail to score in the first twenty minutes or so, the home crowd might well turn on them.

Slovan v Bystrica concludes the programe later on Saturday evening. To add a personal touch to this preview, I enjoyed my visit to Pasienky last Saturday. The sun shone, the welcome, at turnstiles and sausage stand alike, was friendly, and the beer, food and company couldn’t have been bettered. I would have enjoyed myself that bit more if Slovan’s ineffectiveness had lasted another ten minutes or so. It didn’t, of course, partly because Zlaté Moravce, having looked perfectly at ease for most of the game, inexplicably began to panic and partly because Slovan have Filip Šebo. The only striker of proven class in the entire league, Šebo was just where he needed to be to score what might yet be a crucial winning goal. He will probably repeat the feat this weekend and, in the process, ensure the continuation of the run of ominously good results that has seen Slovan emerge as a genuine championship contender.

James Baxter

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Corgoň Liga Round 26 Preview / Review”

  1.   britksibelasion 16 Apr 2011 at 11:23 am

    James, you really called the DAC-Senica match right! I was hoping for another one of these friendly 0-0s, although maybe DAC won’t be too disappointed to see Senica extend their lead at the top and put the pressure back on Zilina & Slovan.
    Based on what we saw last week, I am slightly concerned about the prospect of a draw at Pasienky this afternoon. Let’s hope Slovan role their sleeves up and really announce themselves in this title race!
    Enjoy the Nitra match ..

  2.   James Baxteron 16 Apr 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I’d say DAC are now deep in it. Neither Ruza nor Presov will go down, I’m sure of that. Guess you’re happy with the Slovan result, they handled the pressure of Senica and Zilina winning.

    Zilina were excellent for 30 minutes or so, scored two great goals and it could have been 4. Then referee Olsiak got injured ; it took 5 minutes to decide he couldn’t carry on and the disruption seemed to help Nitra a bit. But 2nd half was comfortable enough for Za.

    Pich and Zosak were back in the starting line-up. Sadly Zosak got injured again – I’d been hoping he might fill the gap left by Jez. As for Pich, not everything came off but he showed flashes of great skill. And Strba was masterful at centre-back, never allowed Nitra a sniff in the 2nd half. Za-Senica on Apr 30th and Senica-Slovan on May 4th are going to be huge.

  3.   britskibelasion 17 Apr 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Great predictions James, and thanks for the update on Zilina. I just watched the highlights, admittedly presented on Youtube by the ‘GreenYellowHearts’ but they gave the impression it was a shooting practice session for Zilina. Grendel’s free-kick was top class, and Pich indeed looked dangerous and very creative down the [right wing?]. Again, Ceesay seemed to have numerous chances he failed to convert!

    Zilina have announced themselves well and truly back in this title race, and if they play like this, they should really beat Senica on their own patch which would put the title back in their own hands.

    I was nervous for Slovan, especially with the pressure of playing last, and after last week’s performance. On seeing Dukla go 0-1 up, I feared the worse. Dosoudil was back for Slovan, and also Bozic who was replaced by Szarka in the 2nd half with Sebo apparently on his own up front to start with. The 2nd half tactics obviously worked, and I haven’t see the goals, but great to see 2 more for Sebo and also Guede on the scoresheet. 5 wins in a row is great form for Slovan but Senica keep on doing their thing.

    DAC deep in the mire indeed, amazing how their fortunes seem to fluctuate so much, it was only just before the mid-season break we were talking about them pushing for the top 3. Kosice are in a much worse position though, and if they can’t get points at home to Ruzomberok, then you’d still think they’re favourites for the drop?
    Anyway, great result for Dubnica, pleased about that!

    Just a word of sympathy for the Petrzalka fans [Stary Jazvec included] who were among the crowd of 325 who saw their team lose away at bottom of the table Puchov. I wonder how was that trip?!

  4.   James Baxteron 18 Apr 2011 at 9:27 am

    I’d have gone to Puchov if Zilina had had the ground closed. Not a bad place to go – if the weather’s nice.

    In fairness to Ceesay, he made some of those chances himself but I can’t help but see the difference between Za and Slovan as being that, in Sebo, Slovan have a proven scorer, unstoppable when he’s in the groove, as he is right now.

    Pich is exciting, I just sense that he’s a bit over-eagar to do sth special all the time. Probably stems from frustration at being out injured so long. More prosaically, Strba in central defence and Guldan in defensive midfield is the right way round. Both were excellent on Saturday. Nitra did turn out to pretty compliant opposition, though they’d done their hard survival work over the four previous games. Oh, and Lietava was banished to the B team where, surprise, surprise, he picked up a yellow card!

    Is relegation now between Dubnica, Kosice and DAC? The latter are in the worst form of all….

  5.   britksibelasion 18 Apr 2011 at 4:37 pm

    .. and they’ve got Slovan on the last day!

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