Aug 11 2011

Austria 1-2 Slovakia

Published by at 5:15 pm under International,Uncategorized and tagged:

Delighted to welcome Kirsten Schlewitz back to the blog with her account of a reasonable night down in Klagenfurt for the Repre:

At around the fifteenth minute of Slovakia’s friendly with Austria on Wednesday night, I was utterly convinced that there was no need to make plans for Poland/Ukraine, and that Brazil in 2014 would be practically impossible. But Slovakia managed to pull out a typical Slovakia win, with the first goal coming through a goalmouth scramble, the second from an offside position. Austria’s goal was a result of, unsurprisingly, a defensive error, and only the offside whistle kept the home side from grabbing a draw in the end. Still, a 2-1 Slovakia win, and a few causes for optimism about this squad.

But let’s start with the weaknesses, shall we? If Vladimir Weiss really wants to take this squad into Euro 2012, he’s going to have to work out a solid defense. The backline looked absolutely disorganized much of the time, and had Austria not had a tendency for shooting just outside the post, this match could have been a disgrace. I’m still uncertain as to why Karim Guédé was playing in central defense, although I admit I don’t actually get to watch much of Slovan – is this common? Even if it is, Guédé looked completely out of his depth, losing the ball with alarming frequency.

I’ve really got no love left for Marek Čech, either. Austria were repeatedly tearing down their right-hand side only to cut in, meeting no resistance from Čech, with Martin Harnik almost laughing as he took shot after shot. Fortunately, as mentioned before, they kept missing by just inches. Unfortunately, the majority of the blame for substitute Erwin Hoffer ‘s goal lies with Čech. In happier news, the Austrians were exploiting the right because they quickly figured out that going up their left side meant they’d have to deal with Peter Pekarík, who wasn’t going to give them any space. Pekarík also looked good going forward, so that’s one plus. Finally, Ľubomír Michalík looked just fine in central defense, which may not sound like high praise, but at least he didn’t screw up enormously.

So that’s the defense. The attack, meanwhile, looked better than I’ve seen it over the past six months or so, although to be fair I didn’t watch the Andorra match, so perhaps it was sparkling then. Surprisingly enough, the attack looked much better in the second half, despite both of Slovakia’s goals coming in the first. Those goals, however, were rather fluky. Juraj Kucka’s opening goal was entirely against the run of play, heading the ball toward the near post from a corner. It just edged past the post and the diving keeper.

The second goal, from Róbert Jež, likely shouldn’t have been awarded at all, as he appeared to be in an offside position. The nifty passing between Vladimír Weiss and Jež in the lead up to the goal was nice, however.

Weiss Senior’s plan really seemed to come together in the beginning of the second half, when Erik Jendrišek came on for Jež. I’m not always the best with formations, and watching on a jumpy stream doesn’t help, so I’m not precisely sure what Slovakia was playing at this time, but the attack flowed much better. Things went downhill a bit in the last 30 minutes, after Austria scored their goal. Rather than focus on defense, Weiss pulled Guédé and put on Filip Šebo, leaving three forwards on the pitch, as well as Weiss junior, Kucka, and Marek Hamšík. It’s surprising, really, that Austria didn’t manage an equalizer.

Speaking of Hamšík, well, I know he’s a hot topic around here. Many believe he doesn’t give enough for his national side, but in this match, he certainly looked as though he wanted a win. Perhaps it’s because he’s not yet tired from domestic play? Napoli just started preseason training a few weeks ago, but Marek looked back to full fitness and eager to play. His passes were a joy to watch, threading effortlessly through the Austrian players. Hamšík even appeared to have been taking lessons from Napoli teammate Edinson Cavani, who tends to run back and defend – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Marek so far back on the pitch before.

All in all, not the greatest performance from Slovakia, but not disheartening. Kucka was good, Jendrišek is needed, Šebo should definitely be getting more minutes. Weiss junior had a few moments of trickery and pace, although he needs to stop diving as much (he even got a yellow for complaining to the ref after being fouled). And captain Hamšík actually looked like a leader, which can only be a positive sign. This friendly definitely gave Weiss senior plenty to think about in the next few weeks – if he can get the defense sorted, the crucial win over Ireland just might be possible (crossing fingers).

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Austria 1-2 Slovakia”

  1.   George Mon 11 Aug 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Having not see Slovakia play for a while , I thought I may make the trip to Vienna to watch the game, QED. at reasonable stadium, nice seat and view, get a drink , sit with some friends etc , …..and thankfully miss out on the normal Slovak offering of an open air venue, with plants and undergrowth growing from the stands, not risking rust stains on the clothes, or sitting on a Green & Yellow Mecano Set seat !……I mean it is obvious no brainer , two local sides in friendly game, just 60 klms apart , with the majority of football support in the two capital cities .

    …Forget , the game was played in Klagenfurt some 3-4 hours by car from BA and Vienna…… it me, or has the Marketing Dept of Austrian Football Association gone bloody mad ?

    BTW , I saw half the game on TV ….glad I saved my ticket money .

  2.   britskibelasion 11 Aug 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Indeed a strange decision to hold the game in Klagenfurt, maybe said marketing department thought they were playing Slovenia ..

    Kirsten, to answer your question, no Guede does not normally play in defence, rather in midfield, on the more attacking side. I really don’t understand why Weiss played him there, I can only think of it as a trial, but seems very strange considering it was his international debut.

    Strange one, especially with Salata on the bench. Glad to hear Michalik had a decent game though, Carlisle United fans will be pleased! I definitely see the defence as a weakness now though, perhaps that is why Weiss is trying to see if Guede could adapt to play that position.

    Glad to hear some good words about Hamsik, it has been a long time coming!

  3.   StaryJazvecon 11 Aug 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Great to see Guede in the national side, now that Karhan is ready for his pension I dont see a better player in the holding def. mid posn, hopefully his inclusion will begin to change attitudes in certain areas, nuff said.

    Wld hope to see Slovakia in Brazil 2014, they’ve jammied the easiest draw ever, so shd be possible. What we need now is for Weiss to convince the players that they are massive underdogs for the Ireland game and then they might get the needed result. I feel certain the master psychologist is at work as we speak.

  4.   StaryJazvecon 11 Aug 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I also want to say nice match report and thats cool having the goals embedded and Merčiak is a biased, theatrical tw*t, thank u for listening.

  5.   James Baxteron 11 Aug 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Second much of what Jazvec says, especially the later comment. Nice report Kirsten. Didn’t see the game so can’t comment on specifics other than to say a) I too am delighted Guede is in the team but b) mystified that he was in defence. Among his other qualities, he’s good at marauding forward and he can’t do a lot of that from centre-back.

    Good point too about Klagenfurt. Understand Austria wanting to take games round the country – but not this one.

  6.   Kirsten Schlewitzon 12 Aug 2011 at 12:40 am

    The odd thing is Guede WAS getting forward — which may account for some gaps in defense! He even took a shot from distance in the second half, and it didn’t miss by much.

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