Sep 27 2011

Salzburg v Slovan Preview

Published by at 9:52 pm under European and tagged: ,

Since we posted our previews of Slovan’s first Europa League group stage game, against Athletic Bilbao two weeks ago, there have been all sorts of goings-on at the Bratislava club. Essentially, the crisis coach Vladimír Weiss seemed to be going through got a lot worse, then things started to get better. The club will now hope they can concentrate on the relatively simple matter of the second installment of their Group F adventure, away to Red Bull Salzburg this Thursday.

The Bilbao game did not contribute too much to Weiss’s problems. True, the Basque team won, and deservedly so, but they won because of their own considerable skill, not because they were up against inadequate opposition. That’s not to say the game presented no technical or tactical issues for Weiss to work on, but he could rightly feel pleased that his side competed well for long periods of the game and played some decent football at times, notably in the build-up to Karim Guédé’s equalising goal.

Weiss’s crisis was always of a more domestic nature and it worsened when, three days after the Bilbao fixture, Slovan lost 1-0 at DAC Dunajská Streda, increasing their goalless Corgoň Liga run to four games. On the final whistle, Weiss departed for Bratislava alone in a taxi rather than with his players on the team bus, leaving assistant Boris Kitka to handle the after-match press-conference. When Weiss then didn’t turn up for training on the Tuesday, it was commonly thought he had quit his post. But he emerged the following day to declare that he intended to continue, admitting in the process that he would have lost his temper with reporters if he’d had to answer questions after the DAC game. It was also explained that Tuesday’s absence was due to lengthy meetings with the Slovan hierarchy to discuss the side’s poor domestic form and ways of moving forward. A week on and a Slovak Cup victory at Pezinok and a 2-1 league win over Košice tentatively suggest that the worst is over.

For me, this whole episode is further evidence that, both psychologically and tactically, Weiss and his teams are better suited to facing apparently more talented sides, and in bigger games, than they are to trying to cause problems for the likes of Nitra or DAC. The Corgoň Liga might be poor but that means you are not easily forgiven when you are unable to even create chances in games everyone expects you to win comfortably. Also, of course, it’s no use putting men behind the ball against most Slovak teams and waiting for them to leave you space for counter-attacks because you’ll be waiting until the referee blows the final whistle. But those are the tactics Weiss instinctively favours and they have served him well in European and international competition over the years.

I’m a little out of touch with who is in or out of form for Slovan at present, but I will be surprised if they don’t face Salzburg with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Oddly, perhaps the biggest problem with that surrounds the player who should be their most dangerous – striker Filip Šebo. Šebo showed glimpses of form against Bilbao and scored against both Pezinok and Košice. This is encouraging news, even if goals against a Slovak third tier side and one of the Corgoň Liga’s weaker outfits do need to be seen in the context of the oppposition’s limitations. The real problem with Šebo as a lone forward, as his coach has admitted, is that he is not a natural at playing with his back to goal and thus isn’t much help when Slovan are trying to retain the ball in their opponents’ half. It’s a tricky problem to solve ; if you drop Šebo, you remove a player who, for all the question-marks against him, has plenty of pace and is still the most likely source of a goal. Give him an out-and-out strike partner, on the other hand, and you lose some of your midfield strength. For now, I suspect he’ll continue ploughing a one-man furrow up front, with Weiss hoping that the Pezinok and Košice goals will at least have increased his confidence.

The Slovan player whose performance against Bilbao really caught the eye was Ivorian youngster Mamadou Bagayoko. He has limitless energy and is able to play as a full-back or wide midfielder, on either left side or right. On Thursday, he may well find himself up against Salzburg’s Slovak winger Dušan Švento. If so, it will be an individual contest worth watching, all the more so since Švento might feel he has something to prove to Weiss, having not been selected by him for last year’s World Cup squad, or for any international games since.

To conclude, I will offer a tentative, history-based forecast for Thursday‘s game. In 2005, Weiss’s Artmedia side lost their opening Champions League group game, 1-0 at home to Inter Milan. As with Slovan against Bilbao, Artmedia didn’t do much wrong but their opponents were, as expected, that bit classier. In their next game, away to Porto, Artmedia stormed to a 3-2 victory. I can’t see Slovan scoring three goals in Austria but I do think we’ll see them put their problems a little further behind them and earn their first point of the stage, courtesy of a 1-1 draw. Let‘s go even further and predict that a hulking defender, Marián Had for example, will wander forward for a set-piece and become the hero.

James Baxter

18 responses so far




18 Responses to “Salzburg v Slovan Preview”

  1.   britskibelasion 27 Sep 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Who’s on form? That’s certainly a good question. I guess Guede and Zofcak are still doing OK. Not sure Sebo is really on form, considering the amount of chances he apparently missed against Kosice. Heard the goal he scored was rather calamitous too …

    Do you not think Weiss is likely to give his old friend Hartig another run out in this match? I haven’t warmed to him yet, but apparently he is more useful when playing alongside a goal-scorer, could we see a Hartig / Sebo partnership at some point? Hartig does have plenty of experience.

    Just had a quick look at Salzburg’s form. They’re top of the league, although they lost last weekend to Admira. Their last home game they won 3-0, slightly ominous. I’m glad to read your prediction. Slovan need to get something out of this game to keep interest going for the PSG game next month…

    Personally, I’m not so optimistic .. but we’ll see, hopefully they prove me wrong!
    Slovan do toho!

  2.   James Baxteron 27 Sep 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Judging from the Kosice highlights, it seems true to say that Sebo needed an empty net, and an incompetent piece of goalkeeping, to score. He missed a few after that, but don’t they say that being in the positions to miss is better than not getting the chances at all? Hartig’s missed a few too so I’d be surprised if he starts, though you never know…

    The other thing I don’t quite get is that after the Bilbao match, Weiss was going on about Sebo not being a striker who could hold the ball up and how there was in fact no such striker at the club. Yet THREE supposed ‘strikers’ had been brought in just the week before – as you referred to in your post-DAC post. Does this mean they’ve got all these forwards, none of whom can do what Weiss seems to want most? I’ll stick with defending Hartig, if only ’cause he has that experience but I would question the other signings.

    There are a few big, strong ‘back to the goal’ strikers in the Corgon Liga, some of whom have ‘seen it and done it’ at a half-decent level, eg Jakubko at Bystrica, Oravec at Trnava etc. Why didn’t Slovan inquire after any of them when (if) they were available?

    For what it’s worth, still think they’ll pick up a point on Thursday.

  3.   George Mon 29 Sep 2011 at 9:46 am

    I am not sure of the mood of the team …Red Bull I mean not Slovan ? If they have one of their nights , I fully expect them to thrash Slovan by 4 or even 5 goals . But if Bull take this game lightly or have a off night , as they do once in a while and Slovan have an evening one of these almost comical defending displays, but still get away with it then a 0-0 draw is the best result I can imagine, because I just cannot see this hapless Slovan lot scoring? ….So far any goal I have seen in Europe has come out of the blue and any Local league goals have appeared by some mad village green defending from the opposition.

    I just feel sorry for the Slovan fans making the long trip …either going and watching a hammering or a bore you to sleep 90 minutes .

  4.   britskibelasion 29 Sep 2011 at 10:06 am

    Long trip? 380 km, 3.5 hrs is hardly a long trip, by European standards. Closer than some domestic grounds.
    I think the 1000+ Slovan fans who make the trip are sure to have a great time, whatever happens on the field.

  5.   George Mon 29 Sep 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Dano how old are you ? You do make me laugh. At you of course, not with you .

    You are like some 5 year kid sometimes. JB may ramble on, and and on and feel the need to mention every blade of grass on and off the football pitch, but at least I feel I am discussing matters with a grown up.

    Have a great time …what an very interesting thought ?? Getting pissed before that game, being sick on the coach, growling at the locals in the bars howling ‘we are Slovan’, because you are Slovak and just don’t know how to behave as traveling race and are so much braver as a herd, or perhaps even having your head scalped, by stupidly sticking it up through the bus roof air vent ?

    Oh and I almost forgot , taking your shirt off at frost bite levels and showing everyone just how manly you are with those huge bouncy tits and admiring beer gut????

    Have a great time, yes an interesting thought ??? .BTW Dano..taking the comfort blanket with you, just in case someone wants to see you on TV ???

  6.   James Baxteron 29 Sep 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Yes, the fans are part of what I was saying about the difference between this and the league. I guess there was agitation among the Slovan fans when the side were struggling to break down Nitra, Kosice etc but the team who’ll be under pressure from their own support this evening is Salzburg.

    Same in Rome – I reckon Slovan knew it was going to be their night when, following Totti’s substitution, the home crowd really got on their team’s and coach’s case. Perhaps these things shouldn’t affect pro footballers that much, but in reality I think they do.

  7.   britskibelasion 29 Sep 2011 at 2:05 pm

    How old am I? Not very George, not very .. you’re clearly building your picture though, long may that continue to amuse me ..

    Some Slovan fans will play up of course, they always do, but I doubt any will stick their heads out of the bus roof ..

    Most of the rest of what you describe could just as easily apply to a group of travelling fans from England.

    on your previous comment you were feeling sorry for them, now you’re brushing them all with your stereotype brush, but don’t worry, we’re more than used to the inconsistencies in your commentary ..

  8.   George Mon 29 Sep 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Looking at the photo, I would say in your thirties, so perhaps by now you would be potty trained and know when to wash your hands ?

    Well at least it would appear my ‘commentary’ is perhaps being read rather than skipped over, but I am very glad to see you are taking most serious notes of my inconsisitencies. Are you also a trainspotter BTW, just a thought ?

    Anyhow to this evenings game …4-0 to Saltz any other proper predictions ???

  9.   britskibelasion 29 Sep 2011 at 4:50 pm

    you could call me a groundhopper I suppose, but not a trainspotter, not yet at least ..

    oh I hang on your every word George, especially on The Daily. I asked John Boyd if he could modify his site so that readers can easily access more than just the 3 most recent comments, I would hate to miss anything. He doesn’t seem to have approved that particular comment unfortunately.

    If I was a betting man (I’m not right now, my account is empty ;-) I would lean towards a 2-0 scoreline .. but I’ve also learned that it’s when I feel pessimistic that Slovan produce their best, and vica-versa ..

    let’s see ..

  10.   George Mon 29 Sep 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Ah so you have no balls rather than no money then …as good public guess at scoreline costs you nothing ? Well other than humiliation ???

    Come Dano , show some guts …rather than be a pussy, will he wont’ he etc …..

    BTW. 2-0 to who …?

    Perhaps all that fence sitting you do on YOUR BLOG ( is this now a reg Trade Mark btw ?) is actually starting to impale your svinkta old son and making life uncomfortable ? As for JB and the Daily comments area, I did the same , as I was missing poking fun at many of the smug cretins when on holiday .

    I was told that he did not want The Daily to be about me …

    What an odd thing to believe ?????

  11.   StaryJazvecon 30 Sep 2011 at 1:26 am

    Alrite Dan, count yourself lucky u didnt have to to endure that match. The Weiss master plan was to have Guede run around battering people off the ball and sit back and hope for 0-0, but you need competent defenders for that. Quite amusing watching Sebo getting more and more f*cked off w/ the non-existent service. Anytime Had, Bagayoko, Guede et al did get forward it was some hopeless attempt at a cross, nowhere near Sebo.

  12.   George Mon 30 Sep 2011 at 8:10 am

    Slovan have an inferiority complex – and it’s fully justified. I would have liked to insult most of the team for this awful performance, but with with their collective intelligence, they just wouldn’t get offended.

    Did the Red Bull keeper have a single shot to save ? Can Slovan put together more than three passes, without giving the ball away, or hitting it up field in blind hope ? Is the last third of the opposition field a no go area for Slovan ?

    Salz had 85% of the play and are the most ordinary team I have ever seen !!!

    Sebo …they made this arrogant hopeless little shite captain for the night, short straw or what ??

    Time for a inconsisitencies check perhaps Dano ?

  13.   britskibelasion 30 Sep 2011 at 9:18 am

    I does indeed look like Slovan simply aren’t good enough. I really fear the P6 L6 scenario. That combined with losing ground in the league and ‘tired’ players, the whole European exercise isn’t looking that productive is it ..

  14.   James Baxteron 30 Sep 2011 at 9:25 am

    I too thought Salzburg were pretty ordinary, though Leonardo, the lad who scored the (very well-taken) second goal, whose name I can’t recall and even Svento were of a higher calibre than anything Slovan normally have to face.

    I struggle to feel sorry for Sebo but I could understand his frustrations in that game. First-half, he made a couple of good runs down the flanks and put half-decent crosses in – or they would have been half-decent if any of his team-mates had got anywhere near the penalty area. But 5 mins left, 2-0 down summed it all up for me. Home defenders passing between them, Sebo chases and chases, looks up – and again there’s no’one within 30 yards.

    If 2 up front is so awful for Weiss to contemplate, he should at least find a way of drumming into the midfielders that they’re allowed to cross the halfway line occasionally.

    Bookies up here are leafing through the Florida brochures now, on the back of my 1-1 prediction. Cheers Slovan.

  15.   George Mon 30 Sep 2011 at 10:06 am

    Perhaps we should discuss the SRB support and stadium ?

    OK, Small crowd, but a good noise from a non topless shirted and almost middle class group of supporters in hats and scarfs . New been there of course, but a SRB have a Stadium most ‘ordinary’ teams would die for ….and Slovak supporters ( and their adopted Brits ) can only dream .

    There was on moment in the first half , and with the score at 0-0 , someone in the Slovan team hit the bar with an amazing curling shot -come cross ..as I have said , Weiss has just run out of luck ! Sebo out of huff and puff ….

    I actually turned over after the first goal, when four defenders in the goal area watched as Leonardo out fought and out jumped them, I was bored to death by this stage …imagine traveling 8 hours there and back to watch this ?

    BTW, APOL of Cyprus have gained 4 points in the real Euro cup …not bad start for team that I predicted were a class above Slovan and would win 2-0 in Bratislava .

  16.   James Baxteron 30 Sep 2011 at 11:13 am

    Very fine stadium for sure. Slovakia dreams of sth 2/3 the size. I did find the sound rather ‘echoey’ though and the attendance was very low. Apparently, the Red Bull takeover of the club, which included rewriting its history, changing the colours etc, led to a breakaway club being formed in 2005 or so. Would be interesting to know what sort of support, relative to Red Bull, they can command and whether Red Bull will get more in for their PSG and Bilbao home games.

    As for the whole ‘tired players’ thing, I’ve never been able to get that, whether it’s Slovan or the likes of Spurs or Villa (both of whom have said ‘f**k you Europa League’ over the years). That said, I find the group stage, in both CL and EL pretty turgid – would happily see straight KO competitions again.

  17.   George Mon 03 Oct 2011 at 12:53 pm

    What happened to the comments about Red Bull , the alternative SaltZ team and fans in clubs ?

    Are we censoring comment , if we wander a little outside of Dano’s Slovan World?

  18.   britskibelasion 03 Oct 2011 at 4:18 pm

    no idea where they went to be honest, will investigate ..

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