Aug 27 2011

Plzeň & Trnava’s European Exploits

Published by at 2:12 pm under Czech Republic,European and tagged: ,

There are almost too many stories at the moment, aren’t there? Slovan beating Roma, the Europa League draw, Vladimir Weiss Senior’s selection for the Ireland and Armenia games….

During flatter periods, it’s a fair bet that this blog would already have had its ha’penny worth about Viktoria Plzeň’s qualification for the Champions League group stages and Spartak Trnava’s tragic-comic elimination from the Europa League. As it is, let’s belatedly say something about these matters now.

Starting with Plzeň, I’m well aware that sections of the Slovak media have been trying to claim a joint share for Slovakia in the West Bohemian side’s achievement and I hope I don’t appear to be doing the same thing here. Pavel Vrba, the Plzeň coach, mastermind of their success and all-round genius and good guy, is Czech (well, Moravian actually). His first significant honours as a head coach were indeed with MŠK Žilina in 2006/2007, but it was Vrba who took Žilina forward rather than the other way round. Since Vrba, all Žilina coaches have been, and will be, judged against his footballing standards. When you consider that Pavel Hapal never got close to winning the fans’ admiration in the way Vrba did, despite qualifying for the Champions League himself, you see how difficult they have it.

As for Plzeň’s Slovak players, Marián Čišovský has done a good job for them at centre-back. Rather like Slovan’s increasingly impressive Marián Had, ‘Čišo’ was previously known as a marauding full-back – I once saw him score a hat-trick from his right-back position as Žilina won 7-3 in an end of season frolic with Inter Bratislava in 2004-2005 – but appears to have successfully adapted his game under Vrba.

The real reason the Slovak contribution to the Plzeň effort is being trumpeted in these parts, however, is that the goal-scorers in the 2nd leg victory over Odense were Marek Bakoš and Michal Ďuriš. In his Púchov days, Bakoš always seemed to reserve his best performances for games against Žilina. He was strong, quick, held the ball up well and took a mean free-kick. With Pavel Horváth in the team, Plzeň have little need of the last attribute but, as he showed on Tuesday night, Bakoš still finds ways to score  goals just when his team needs them.

Ďuriš, meanwhile, used to be one of a host of promising young forwards at Banská Bystrica. Two of the others, Dušan Uškovič and Róbert Pich are still to fulfil their very obvious talent (the latter is currently providing the Žilina public with excitement and frustration in roughly equal measure) but, under Vrba’s guidance, Ďuriš is well on the way to fulfilling his. As in the cases of Čišovský, Bakoš and Slovan’s Had, you can bet that Weiss Senior has noticed.

So what of Trnava and their Europa League campaign? I would actually argue that their efforts in the early stages of European qualifying were more creditable than Slovan’s. They started, under the cloud of a long-running fan boycott, remember, at the end of June and overcame increasingly difficult opposition in increasingly impressive style before coming up against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Trnava’s performance in the first-leg in Russia, which they lost 2-0, does sound somewhat anaemic and over-cautious but they clearly gave the home leg a real go and, at 1-0 up with 15 minutes to go, appeared to have a real chance of at least earning extra-time. Then goalkeeper Pavol Raška conceded a penalty, converted by the visitors, and was sent off. Though the outcome of the tie was effectively decided at that point, all sorts of shenanigans occurred in the closing moments. Two more Trnava players were shown red cards, along with a Russian, who, apparently unnoticed by the Italian referee, did not depart for the dressing-rooms but stayed on the field to play out the match.

Impressive European support for Trnava

Miroslav Karhan has apparently taken it upon himself to write to UEFA detailing Trnava’s complaints about the refereeing while Pavel Hoftych (a Czech coach whose work, like Vrba’s, could well be worth watching) has given a reflective interview to today’s Šport in which he emphasises that, despite the disappointment of missing out on the group stages, his team’s European experiences have been of great benefit.

My sympathies to Trnava, then, but credit too for an honourable effort. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do even better in Europe next season. Many congratulations to Plzeň and, as this season‘s true fliers of the Slovak flag, congratulations to Slovan too.

James Baxter


8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Plzeň & Trnava’s European Exploits”

  1.   StaryJazvecon 27 Aug 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Only story of the w/end is how many will Patrik Le Giang be picking out of the onion bag against my brave boys in the massive D2 top of the table clash tomorrow morning, surely.

  2.   StaryJazvecon 28 Aug 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Its a long way to Michalovce, its a long way to go
    by bus
    Goodbye civilization
    Hello Eastern badlands
    Its a long way to Michalovce
    with no points.

  3.   britskibelasion 28 Aug 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Mihalovce away this winter, Jazvec?

  4.   StaryJazvecon 28 Aug 2011 at 10:36 pm

    It’s a big ask and a long way.

  5.   James Baxteron 29 Aug 2011 at 7:41 pm

    You both missed the (er…) ‘deliberate’ mistake in there then(?) It was Villareal beat Odense, while Plzen beat Copenhagen.

    But well done to Petrzalka yesterday, Jazvec. When do they play in L Mikulas? I would have gone to Dubnica to see them but know already I’ll be busy that w/e.

  6.   George Mon 29 Aug 2011 at 8:25 pm

    God this conversation is getting a bit deep and boring ….someone sent me this little nugget a few years ago ……just enjoy !

  7.   StaryJazvecon 30 Aug 2011 at 11:30 pm

    L Mik v Zalka is Sat 3 March 2012 (3H 15 m from BA by IC, groundhoppers), but

    Zalka players still unpaid after 5 months it would seem, some living in Hotel Rapid:

  8.   StaryJazvecon 30 Aug 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Yowser, second A @ Myjava is Sat 07/04/12 and its my BD on the 8th, fellas your only 30 once, clear your diaries…

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply