Oct 20 2011

Slovan v PSG Preview

Published by at 10:34 am under European and tagged: , ,

On the face of it, SK Slovan Bratislava enter this match with the French table-toppers in something of a rut form-wise, both domestically and in Europe.  The only form guide which will give Slovan fans any hope is, sadly, of little relevance to tonight’s match, and that is the record of French teams in the Champions League this week; P3, L3, F0, A6.  The peformances of Lyon, Marseille and Lille make sorry reading for French football fans.

With the exception of the EL Group F defeat at Athletic Bilbao, PSG’s record over the last month has been impressive.  4 consecutive wins and plenty of goals sees them sitting 3 points clear of Montpellier and Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.  This is the kind of situation Slovan’s owners and fans would also expect domestically but, sadly the picture is quite different.  Without making excuses for a squad which has showed a serious lack of cutting edge recently, especially against the Corgon Liga’s lesser teams, the strain of competitive European football matches since mid-summer is clear for all to see.

Having said that, given the recent international break, Slovan have only played 2 matches in the 3 weeks since their last European outing, the 0-3 defeat in Salzburg.  Victory away at bottom club Presov was followed by a 2-2 draw at AS Trencin in a match Weiss called ‘the best so far in the league this season’.  I assume he wasn’t referring to Slovan’s defensive performance in the first 20 minutes, which bore more resemblance to amateur football.  However, maybe the rustiness can be attributed to the longer-than-usual break, Slovan did look much more organised in the 2nd half.  I personally hope Weiss did give himself and his squad plenty of time to rest and get away from football for a couple of days, clear their heads a bit.

We have talked at length on this blog about the tactics employed by Vladimir Weiss – how he is capable of producing shocks like Slovakia v Italy in the World Cup, or Roma v Slovan earlier in this competition – yet cannot organise his team to go out and score against Dunajska Streda or Nitra.  Something which stood out to me in the Trencin match, from a tactical point of view, was the first half substitution of club captain Jiri Kladrubsky.  Kladrubsky was Slovak football’s most expensive signing when he arrived from Sparta Prague reserves last summer, and did show great promise early in the season.  Since Weiss took over from Karol Jarolim, Kladrubsky’s form has nose-dived, to such an extent he has become a fringe player.  Being substituted in the first half at Trencin was received with an angry kick of the dug-out and you feared the worse for this particular captain-coach relationship.  Yet, as a fan I was happy to see a defensive midfielder being replaced by an attacker (Milos Lacny) when Slovan were 0-2 down after 20 minutes.  It sounds so obvious, but often doesn’t appear remotely obvious to Weiss when Slovan (or Slovakia) find themselves in a situation where they need to adjust – use Plan B – i.e. play more attacking football – Sebo coming on after 86 minutes against Russia just one recent example.

Yesterday Weiss and Kladrubsky appeared in front of the media, all smiles and looking very relaxed.  Quite a contrast to Kladrubsky’s reaction last Saturday and also to some of Weiss’ other recent press-conferences where headlines have been made for all the wrong reasons.  They’re saying the right things this time, has some collective soul-searching been done?

Weiss & Kladrubsky in the PSG press conference

In this evening’s match, Weiss can play cautious again, and try to sneak something against clearly superior opposition, but what are the chances of that working, and how will the fans feel if we walk out having seen a 0-5 defeat with Slovan not even giving it a real go?  A draw would be a remarkable achievement, and yield the first point in European group stages for Slovan, but I think all the fans want to see is the team given their all and at least trying to score.

The line-up published in ‘Dennik Sport’ this morning finally resembles the one I would select – Halenar and Sebo together up front, with Milikovic, Guede and Zofcak behind.  In defense, I will be deeply concerned if Dosoudil plays ahead of Marian Had, given his performance at Trencin, and I also fail to see why goalkeeper Lukas Hrosso has walked into the starting team ahead of Matos Putnocky who played a huge role in getting Slovan this far.  These are fine details though, and there is no guarantee that this is the final selection, I do think it would be a really smart move from Weiss to select both Halenar and Sebo.

Filip Sebo will be greeted by PSG coach Antoine Kombouare who was his manager during his time in France at Valenciennes, and once again has an opportunity to show what he can do with the eyes of Europe on him.  The Slovan squad has potential, proven by the result in Rome, yet there are so many factors that must align for them to have any chance tonight.   Earlier in the week, I was feeling deeply pessimistic.  Maybe it is just the match-day feeling, but once again I have some faint (probably false) glimmer of hope in my stomach, especially given the VIPs visiting Bratislava tonight;

How will the millionaires of  PSG enjoy playing at Pasienky on cold, damp night?  For those who don’t know Pasienky, it is almost undoubtedly the worst venue hosting any European football this week.  Let’s see if Javier Pastore performs better than the last player with such a price-tag we saw at Pasienky; Marek Hamsik.

Off-the-field, and talking of VIPs, the attendance will be boosted by the presence of at least 15 travelling fans, (and they won’t be supporting PSG).  The European Football Weekends Oktoberfest roadshow is rolling into town.  Watch this space, for links to photos, reports and all the news from a weekend-long beer and football bonanza.

My prediction:   Slovan 1-3 PSG

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Slovan v PSG Preview”

  1.   George Mon 20 Oct 2011 at 11:09 am

    ” Filip Sebo will be greeted by PSG coach Antoine Kombouare who was his manager during his time in France at Valenciennes, and once again has an opportunity to show what he can do with the eyes of Europe on him.”

    Is that Antoine, or the lump of lard call Filip who will be doing the showing then? One of the reason Sebo was always ‘moved on’ to another club, was because he could never perform, as advertised on the packet . I think you are floggin a dead horse Deano , hoping Sebo will suddenly grow a footballing brain, although loosing 10 kilo’s in unsightly fat by chopping off his head perhaps) might just allow him to reach passes, he expects others to control from him ?

    The rest of this article is just, trainspotter dream drivel .

    The score 0-2 …at a stroll .

  2.   britskibelasion 20 Oct 2011 at 11:16 am

    I don’t think I’m flogging any horses, George. I simply made reference to the fact that once again, Sebo has a chance to show what (if anything) he is capable of. I am not promoting his cause, nor did I suggest that he would do anything particularly special, it is a simple statement of fact that, despite his awful form recently, he has yet another chance tonight.

    If he’d have moved to Hannover earlier this season, he would surely be lingering in their reserves. At least he still gets first team football at Slovan! I do think he’ll stand more of a chance if he has Halenar up their with him, rather than, as you say – simply chasing hopeful through balls all night.

  3.   James Baxteron 20 Oct 2011 at 12:32 pm

    There’s no flogging of dead horses in this preview. It sums up the situation in both squads ahead of the match. It concentrates on Slovan because this is, after all, a Slovak football blog and it gives pointers to anyone planning to watch the game who is unfamiliar with the home team. A 1-3 prediction is hardly dreaming, is it? For starters, it’s no more rosy than a 0-2 prediction.

    Re the Trencin match, I was discussing it this week with someone I know here in Za – a guy who knows football from the ‘inside’ and talks a hell of a lot of sense. He pointed out that every team that’s played at Trencin this season has struggled badly in the first 30 mins or so. They have a plastic pitch, remember, and a lot of clever, technical players who are very well-adapted to it. It’s a major advantage. If anything, I’d say Slovan did well to pull that game round.

    There’s no flogging dead horses in the article but there is a steady drumbeat for Halenar. He’s one of those players I always dread the sight of when he comes to Zilina as he’s had more than his share of good games here down the years. I’m sure he’s worth a go too but I think it’s too much to hope that he’ll be right up front with Sebo. We’ll see anyway, looking fwd to watching later on.

  4.   George Mon 20 Oct 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Danko …. I think you have made a ‘hopeful on Sebo’ reference in just about every Slovan comment you make, so admit it, are you in love with the guy or what ? …..and as for the hopes in ‘first team’ football ? I would remind you , Sebo actually starts in the First Team, somewhere of the the level, of a mid table team of the Blue Square League in England, not the Premier League, La Liga or the Bundeslaga .

    BTW , Sebo does not chase hopeful balls , he hides behind the last defender hoping they make a miss-kick or a goofy mistake as they often do when Slovan play the village sides …However , I will admit he does do a lot of chasing and huffin of hopeful defending players …never ever quite getting there in time to block the ball.

  5.   George Mon 20 Oct 2011 at 12:47 pm

    James , Good to see you brought the bog roll along and continue to wipe up the rear , behind old Dan .

    Talk about stating the bleeding obvious …yes, I do understand this is a Slovan Blog and yes, it is all Dan’s Ball , when unless he lets you play with it for a while …then funny enough we hear about just about every other team in the league .

    I would also remind you Trencin are 4th from bottom, , with 13pts from 12 games , so the plastic pitch is hardly giving them a great advantage …perhaps it is the clodhopper style of Slovan that are the problem ?

    I gave the 0-2 score because , a) I just cannot see Slovan scoring b) ….this is a training session for the French, not some hard fought match against a talented team, who could actually win the game .

    Finally , a mention again for APOL of Cyprus and 1-1 in Porto…I told you this lot were a class act … Perhaps you two have gone all football native and we now cannot get the Slum out of you ?

  6.   James Baxteron 20 Oct 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I’m sure your stats about Trencin are correct George – but just 1 of those 13 points has come away from home. 12 from 6 home games for a newly-promoted side is a good home record in my book.

    I’m not arguing with your prediction, nor with your assessment of APOEL. However, even if Slovan were a Blue Square level team (which they’re not – I’d say Corgon Liga playing standards compare with lower Championship/upper League One, though off-field standards are another question again), that would still leave them capable of upsetting PSG. ‘Capable’, I said, not ‘definitely going to’.

  7.   George Mon 20 Oct 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Goodness James, all that fence sitting must be giving you a sore ass by now …. :-)

    So your score prediction is what ?

    Slovan ‘Definitely goin to’ – PSG ‘ Upsetting’ ???

  8.   James Baxteron 20 Oct 2011 at 4:38 pm

    After Dan, you were in first. I’ll be a touch more optimistic than both of you (being a native and all that) and go for defeat by just one goal. 1-2 it is. Had or Dobrotka from a set-piece to score for Slovan.

    My predictions for the weekend’s Corgon Liga games will be up soon. hope you can contain your excitement till then…

  9.   Magdalena Sebestovaon 20 Oct 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Hey George, I want to meet you, do you fancy going for a drink?

  10.   James Baxteron 20 Oct 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I think Slovan did well there for 80 mins. With Halenar/Lacny getting closer to Sebo than anyone ever did in Salzburg, they were able to get hold of the ball up front a few times. Problem was the last 10 mins when, with PSG down to 9 men, they lacked the bravery and intelligence to go on and win it.

    Disappointed with the French side – having watched these three Slovan games, I would definitely say Bilbao are the best team in the group. They came from behind to draw 2-2 with Salzburg tonight.

  11.   George Mon 20 Oct 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Magdalena Sebestovaon 20 Oct 2011 at 10:19 pm

    ”Hey George, I want to meet you, do you fancy going for a drink?”

    Meet , I’d soona stick pins in my eyes thank you …keep petting small silly dogs OK Maggie ?

  12.   George Mon 21 Oct 2011 at 8:49 am

    I too was disappointed by PSG ….but they were the team that looked likely to win and only a fine goalkeeping save, stopped them doing that.

    Thankfully I only saw the second half , but I am sure James will correct me if I am wrong , but did Slovan have one real goal scoring chance ?…Yes there was the nasty goal scramble that got cleared and one nice curved shot in the first half ( I saw on the replay) …but Slovan were the home team and even when PSG numbers were significantly reduced, they still looked like more like scoring and were still coming forward, looking to win the game.

    Slovan seem lost in the last third of the field …does no one from midfield know how to join the attack, do inter pass with a team member ( rather than the opposition ) and get some bodies into the penalty area, other than from corners.

    Sebo again was a utter joke ( His freekick near the end, that was blasted 20 meters over the bar ??? ) …and he is like a little boy lost among any actual talent . His booking for a late kick (I cannot even call it a tackle) after he had puffed and huffed and chased across the pitch, had all the hallmarks of a desperate, desperate man. I get the feeling dear Filip , will be moved on again soon , as he has been before,as he is not got it to make his mark, even in the Slovak Leagues.

    I am actually stunned people pay good money and go live to watch his crap .

  13.   James Baxteron 21 Oct 2011 at 9:54 am

    PSG were perhaps more incisive but far more of the game was played in their half than in Roma’s or Bilbao’s and that was because Slovan retained possession better up front. It didn’t look like a Blue Square level team taking on one of Europe’s richest sides, it looked like a team making the best of what it had against a bunch of more technically gifted individuals.

    Oddly enough, the gulf in quality was most evident when PSG only had 9 men. I can’t help but think Slovan were missing a trick there – don’t think PSG would have let them off the hook if they’d had 11 and Slovan only 9.

    But for 80 mins I though it was a solid European performance from Slovan, all things considered.

  14.   George Mon 21 Oct 2011 at 11:01 am

    James , to be fair , I did base my Blue Square assessment based on the Slovan performances in Slovak league and cup games . With this so well paid team of local stars and Weiss as manager,they have , they should be walking the home leagues and winning by 3 or more goals each week .

    Every team from the lower leagues, often raises their game to teams in the higher leagues in one off matches and many a FA Cup upset will put proof to that fact ,over the last 40 years . There are also no easy games anymore in the world of football and the days when an England or perhaps even a Germany could thrash a Norway, or even a Macedonia 8 or 9 -1 are long gone . Even Andorra whilst they loose almost every game, it is almost always by a scoreline of 1or2 to nil, done by defending in depth and with almost all the team in their own half .

    ” But for 80 mins I though it was a solid European performance from Slovan, all things considered.”

    Yes James, but at some stage you do have to score, or look as if you want to …..I mean Slovan have NIL when they actually start a game and never ever look like adding to that scoreline .

  15.   James Baxteron 21 Oct 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Fair points there George, though I don’t see why you won’t apply what you say in the middle paragraph to Slovan’s domestic opponents. DAC, Nitra etc are surely raising their own games to meet the champions and European representatives.

    Where I do think Weiss has a genuine problem is with his back-up squad – he’s chucked 3 or 4 into the reserves apparently.

    Discussing Sebo is perhaps pointless as I think we do agree he can’t cut it in Europe or international football. Even leaving that aside, he’s ill-served by being asked to play as a lone striker as his game isn’t about holding the ball with his back to goal. When they got Halenar, Lacny and the midfield guys close to him, though, it all looked a lot better than in Salzburg, for example.

  16.   StaryJazvecon 03 Nov 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Weiss @ press conf: “We are halfway through building a new team and a new infrastructure – and our new stadium will be the pride of this club.” Sounds like Ivan’s told him he’s gonna start writing some big cheques, but is there anyone left in Slovakia worth buying? Oravec? Karhan? Robert Rak?

    As for the stadium, wld Mr. K really stump up 40-50 mil on his own? Dont see any state money in the current climate, definitely nothing b4 the election. Private money? Doubt it. Hot air, probably.

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