Sep 04 2011

Ireland 0-0 Slovakia

Published by at 11:12 am under International and tagged: ,

Slovakia produced arguably their best performance of Euro 2012 qualifying so far on Friday night in Dublin  and will be disappointed at having to share a 0-0 draw with their Irish hosts.

You don’t need Vladimír Weiss Senior’s level of tactical acumen to know how Ireland are going to play. It’s always 4-4-2, with much of the emphasis on getting the ball to the wide men, in this case Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff.  Weiss, predictably, tried to establish control of central midfield by setting his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Miroslav Karhan and Juraj Kucka had the deeper roles while Marek Hamšík, Vladimír Weiss Junior and Miroslav Stoch kept switching positions behind lone striker Filip Hološko.

The tactics worked in the sense that Slovakia controlled the game for lengthy periods and passed the ball far better than their opponents. In fact, there were phases where the visitors put up to twelve passes together and, on losing the ball, were immediately given it back again.

The key to this level of control lay in the performances of Karhan and Hamšík. Karhan displayed the calming influence of a veteran and the energy of a man 10 years younger, while Hamšík finally showed fans of the national team why ridiculous sums of money are sometimes mentioned in connection with his name. Ireland found it difficult to keep track of him and his passing was immaculate. It would have been a 10 out of 10 captain’s performance but for the moment when,  with a clear sight of goal following Hološko’s outside-of-the-foot pass, Hamšík took an unnecessary second touch of the ball, allowing a home defender to get his body in the way of the eventual shot.

The incident was a microcosm of Slovakia’s night really because, impressive though they were, they rarely troubled Shay Given. Weiss Junior had the two other best chances, one in each half. He fired straight at the ‚keeper with the first and elected to pass rather than shoot with the second, despite having a clear enough sight of goal. Juraj Kucka, meanwhile, shared Weiss Junior’s tendency to take wrong options, though he did it the other way round, finding the back of the stand with a wild shot when he had team-mates to pass to.

Ján Mucha was no busier than Given, though he did make one decent save, from Duff in the first half. Ireland created some pressure in the last 10 minutes or so –  substitute Simon Cox shot wide after Robbie Keane had, just for once, got behind the Slovak defence to set him up, and there was a succession of corners in injury-time – but you would have to be a very blinkered home fan to suggest that they deserved more than a draw.

Weiss Senior should be encouraged by his team’s efforts but will know too that they still need to find some goals from somewhere. Better decision-making from players when they find themselves within range of the target would clearly help. You also wonder if someone who’s shown in the past that he can score regularly – Stanislav Šesták, for example –  would be worth a chance against Armenia on Tuesday. Weiss Senior has said many times that he feels Armenia’s young, enthusiastic team  play the best football in the group. That might mean that Slovakia get more space to play their own game than they sometimes do when at home.

One thing is clear anyway. While the draw in Dublin is an acceptable result, only a win will do on Tuesday….

James Baxter


 

7 responses so far




7 Responses to “Ireland 0-0 Slovakia”

  1.   George Mon 04 Sep 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I think in the words of some famous Frenchman …James are you BLIND ???? I think you were watch a totally different game to us ?

    Whilst Slovakia had a lot of the ball …what did they do with it in the last third of play, almost nothing ? Weiss does his clever footwork dribbles and crosses to who ????………Slovakia have scored just 6 goals in this group and never really looked like even scoring here with the set up they had, with Filip Hološko left totally unsupported most of the time .

    I sat at home with an Irishman and before the game, we discussed the match . He fully expected Slovakia to steal this game by two goals ( as they should on possession play! ) as the Irish team is one of the weakest, OAP even they have had in many years. I mean they even played twitchy, I cannot hit a barn door, Mr Robbie Keen and cheered when madman Steve Hunt came on the pitch as sub a few minutes from the end !!!…..Yes the Italian scientific tactic of the Irish team was to defend in depth and hoof it up the field, rather like when Jack Charlton made them all Super Stars in some World Cup , but they did never ever win a game .

    Slovakia controlled the game for lengthy periods, was perhaps their best footballing performance and passed the ball far better than their opponents, but the opponents did keep giving them the ball ???…and when Slovakia had it , how many clear chances did they actually create on the break ?? ..I counted three …Weiss shot straight at the keeper in the first half , he crossed after a hazy run in the penalty area to errrrr no one …and the best chance of the entire game fell to out of form (?) Hamsik and he lost all composure and fluffed his opportunity …..worth every penny of the 35 million Naples want for him, I think not on this performance !?!

    Both us viewers were amazed by the lack of effort by Hamsik who was almost annomous influence on the pitch IOHO, well compared with Weiss, Kutch and Karhan ??? Is there something that say he cannot be removed from the game BTW ? This is about the third time he was the week link in match , and still stayed on the pitch ?

    Sorry to say, whilst the Irish were not very good, the lack of courage by Slovakia ( Weiss snr ) to commit men to the last third of the pitch, meant they could and should have lost a game, they could have already won by the last 15minutes, to several late chance, one by Keen ….( as Fcuking hopeless as he is ! ) and both St Ledger and Doyle right at the death ….

    Still one point gained, when three were available for most of the 90 minutes and could have all been lost in the last 15 min !

  2.   James Baxteron 04 Sep 2011 at 12:57 pm

    You like to shout George, but show me exactly where the differences are in our accounts of this match – the match itself, I mean, rather than individual performances. You don’t seem to disagree with my clearly stated view that Slovakia controlled possession but hardly troubled Shay Given (yes, three chances) or that Ireland were poor but had chances to win it late on, as I say in my 6th paragraph.

    About Hamsik, I feel you’re letting your prejudices get the better of your judgement. He should have scored (as I mentioned) but he basically ran the game. Other reports I’ve read of the game support my view. Perhaps others support yours but that would simply show that different people see different things.

    I also said very clearly that Slovakia do need to score goals. 6 in 7 games doesn’t look good and, definitely needing to beat Armenia on Tuesday, it’s possible they’ll need to change sth. Sestak right up front with Holosko, maybe, or just some shooting practice? Hopefully, Weiss will come up with the right answers.

    Slovakia and Ireland might both be as bad as you’re making out but if that’s true Russia are hardly a whole lot better and thus the group’s still there for the taking.

  3.   George Mon 04 Sep 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Perhaps it is the way you talk up a game, or get all school boy excited, even blinded in a match ( even on certain players ) that is-was pretty awful, run of the mill or journeyman as this gave was . I mean it was only hearing Crowd ( and what support Slovakia had eh ?? ) Rather than report what you actually see ? After all you have no newsprint to sell, agenda to plan or have to be the team or country’s cheer leader ?

    BTW . I have no bias on Hamsik …I was however actually waiting for him to DO something, even going forward …every pass was almost intercepted, every run was checked, he kept giving the ball away …not ONE little chance created by him ??? Then he misses a sitter, that a class play would had slotted away and punished a tired defence ! ….Someone please tell me where all the excitement is coming from on this twit and the justify any valuation of 35mil, let alone 2008 14 million eur ??????

  4.   George Mon 04 Sep 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Sorry ..comment went on its own ???

    Perhaps it is the way you talk up a game, or get all school boy excited, even blinded in a match ( even on certain players ) that is-was pretty awful, run of the mill or journeyman as this game was . I mean it was only hearing Crowd ( and what support Slovakia had eh ?? ) did you know two teams were playing . Rather than report what you actually see ? After all you have no newsprint to sell, agenda to plan or have to be the team or country’s cheer leader ?

    BTW . I have no bias on Hamsik …I was however actually waiting for him to DO something, even going forward …every pass was almost intercepted, every run was checked, he kept giving the ball away …not ONE little chance created by him ??? Then he misses a sitter, that a class play would had slotted away and punished a tired defence ! ….Someone please tell me where all the excitement is coming from on this twit and the justify any valuation of 35mil, let alone 2008 14 million eur ??????

  5.   James Baxteron 04 Sep 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Well, obviously I like watching football enough to concentrate on what actually happens on the field rather than have all my prejudices confirmed. If I didn’t like the game, I wouldn’t be here writing about it and you wouldn’t have the opportunity to come after me screeching your ‘disagreements’ which, as I said before, are hardly disagreements anyway.

    Re Hamsik, you could find various comments from me criticising him, wondering why Napoli seem to rate him so much etc. I don’t believe he’s worth 35 million, no, but then is any footballer? If, I repeat, if, someone comes in and pays that much, they consider him to be worth it and no amount of shouting from you, me or anyone else will change that. It’s the market.

    I still think he played very well last night and I’m in the resonably sound company of the guys from the Guardian or Telegraph with that view. Bet they’re saying right now, ‘Thank God the man from Britski Belasi reporter thinks the same as us’.
    And don’t worry, I’m not being serious…

  6.   George Mon 04 Sep 2011 at 3:52 pm

    mmmm , I think sometimes sports news Football Reporters .. (real ones I mean, not the other ones ) get sucked into this Black Hole of ‘what a great player he is ‘, ……when in fact it was just one pass, one moment of magic or a goal that suddenly puts a player ‘back’ in their eyes . I have have been gobsmacked at Reporters some picks of ‘Player of the Match’ …when the star is chosen …why ????

    Who would you have chosen as your Player of the Match ?? Mine would have been Kucka, until he tired or Karhan .?

    I could never see all the hub hub over David Beckham … OK he scored some cracking goals from a dead ball free kicks , made many a 60 yard pass across the pitch to the chest of an teammate …..but what did he do creative most of the rest of time ???? Once he left Man U, well yuk !….his wife made him and her a brand name worldwide and the football he played was actually went to utter crap ….well except for one game against Greece I went to see …where suddenly, and for no real good reason , he was the player I saw that had some talent at United .

    As for Hamsik, I guess the real test of this wooden top, is the actual question , do you think he would make the starting eleven line up of a Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, even an England ?? …I think not ??….perhaps Weiss is the only Slovak that would even make the subs bench of these teams and then as an impact player ..ie. break glass if needed etc .

  7.   James Baxteron 04 Sep 2011 at 4:18 pm

    ‘Who would you have chosen as your Player of the Match ?? Mine would have been Kucka, until he tired or Karhan .?’

    Of those two, it was Karhan for me. I think they’d struggle without him to be honest. Kucka did some good things but his tendency to shoot into Row Z when team-mates are well-placed around him is irritating. It’s that footballing intelligence thing again…

    ‘As for Hamsik, I guess the real test of this wooden top, is the actual question , do you think he would make the starting eleven line up of a Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, even an England ?? …I think not ??….’

    Probably not, no. I’m really not a great fan of his. I do think he played well against Italy in the WC and last night but these are two isolated performances over a year apart. Also, in both games, the team was set up to suit him, ie he didn’t need to worry too much about defending because Kucka and Strba/Karhan were watching his back.

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