Dec 16 2011

Slovan Bratislava 2-3 Red Bull Salzburg

Published by at 4:49 pm under European and tagged: , ,

“Three Unnecessary Goals”

was the headline carried by Dennik Sport next to an interview with Slovan coach Vladimir Weiss yesterday in response to his team’s disappointing end to their European adventure here in Bratislava on Wednesday night.

When the Europa League Group F fixtures were arranged back at the end of the summer, several thoughts crossed my mind when I realised that this was one of the two group stage matches I’d be able to attend. Primarily, that it would most likely be a dead rubber of a match, played out in front of next to no-one on a freezing cold, dark winter’s night at Pasienky.  In reality, it wasn’t that bad.  Salzburg had everything to play for in terms of qualification, Slovan had pride to play for and the hope they could add to their solitary group stage point with one last opportunity to top up the coffers ahead of the winter transfer window.  In terms of the conditions, well it was a far cry from the summer evening qualifiers against Tobol Kostonay & APOEL Nicosia but it could have been a whole lot worse.  A dry night, with the temperature above freezing was all we could ask for ahead of the latest ever competitive fixture to be played outdoors in modern-day Slovakia (14.12 was a few days later than Zilina v Spartak Moscow last season).

European Football in Bratislava

James Baxter penned the preview to this match, identifying some of the personnel likely to be missed by Slovan tonight.  Namely Marko Milinkovic and Momodou Bagayoko, certainly the Ivorian would have made a big difference tonight.  In terms of the result James predicted a single goal away victory and in that respect wasn’t too far off the mark.  I don’t think anyone could have expected the match to unfold quite the way it did though!

James had travelled down from Zilina for only his second taste taste of European football this season, and arrived in time for a few ‘warmers’ on the Bratislava Christmas Market prior to kick-off.  No sign of any football fans there, but we’d heard that a good crowd could be expected from Salzburg, 960 tickets having been requested by the Austrians. Fortunately some insider knowledge drew us to the best punch on offer, and we were suitably warmed well ahead of the 19.00 kick-off time.

Vouchers were exchanged at the gate with the minimum of hassle, and as we made our way around to our seats, we speculated as to whether we’d take an alcohol-free beer or a tea prior to kick-off.  It being a competitive European match at low-grade Pasineky, with travelling supporters no-less, I certainly didn’t expect to be served any alcohol.  Tea was decided upon, but much to our delight ‘vereny vino’ was on offer, and real beer too.  Hot wine in hand, we knew we were one of the first 1,000 spectators in the ground – we had the free stickers to prove it. The crowd was looking pitiful as the players made their way in from the warm up, there were still barely a thousand people in the ground.

Europa League in Bratislava

You really didn’t want to be a late-comer at this match.  Surely a large majority of the crowd missed either one or both of Slovan’s goals as they made their way in from the warmth of the pubs.  Slovan took the fastest ever 2-goal lead in the Europa League proper with both goals coming from Miloš Lačný inside 6 minutes.  For the first, good pressure from Slovan down the left together with some indecisive defensive play saw Lačný rob the right-back of the ball, a challenge which was disputed by the Austrians, and calmy finish past keeper Alexander Walke. The second wasn’t all too disimilar, although this was created by a fantastic through ball from Marian Had, and Walke would surely have been disappointed by his feeble attempt at saving Lačný’s shot.  Maybe he’d been watching videos of Lačný since he arrived at Slovan and wasn’t expecting quite as much power, or accuracy on the shot…

So, Slovan were 2-0 up after 6 minutes.  And that was as good as it got.  Vladimir Weiss’ best moments as a coach with Slovan or Slovakia have come by grinding down better opposition with a solid defensive performance and then hitting them late on with a vital winner.  The situation here was exactly the opposite of how Slovan usually go into games.  With Lačný, Sebo & Halenar in the starting XI, the intentions clearly weren’t all defensive tonight, but if 2 goals for Slovan had been offered before the match, you’d take them no question, regardless of the goal-times, so now it was time for the solid defensive bit.

Salzburg’s first goal came from the penalty spot on 19 minutes.  A free-kick on the edge of the box was lofted towards the goal by Jakob Jantscher and it caught Karim Guede’s hand.  To be fair, the wall was probably encroaching, and Guede’s hand was up and the ball struck it.  In real-time it was hard to spot, but the shot was probably on target, so there can’t be many arguments about the decision.  Some get given, others don’t, but it was 2-1.   Salzburg’s equaliser was where Bagayoko would have come in handy.  His replacement Kristián Kolčák was caught playing the ‘B-level’ football he is more familiar with, and played a ridiculously sloppy pass out to Red Bull’s dangerous Brazilian Leonardo.  Leonardo picked up the pass, ran at ease past Klabrusky and the rest of Slovan’s defense who were retreating badly, and slotted impressively past Hrosso, 2-2 before we knew it.  You will never get away with this kind of football in Europe, this was embarrassing defending.  Weiss was obviously fuming but there was little he could do from the side-lines.  Kolčák is not a bad player in terms of technique but he lacks experience and physique.  He was badly exposed here and when a player like Leonardo starts running at a Slovak defence, there will only be one outcome.

“MIT TRADITION UND HERZ GEGEN KOMMERZ” was the message from the Slovan fans’ to the visitors away to our left.  The visiting Austrians probably did number around 900 and some of them kept singing throughout.  Not the kind of noise 900 visiting Germans or Rapid Wien fans would generate but it is clear the commercial club who played most of their matches in front of a half-empty stadium have fans who are willing to travel.

Slovan fans try to make amends with Andy Hudson

I don’t think there could have been anything more welcome than another hot wine at half time, but we knew it was only a matter of when Salzburg would take the lead and how many they would score in the second half.   The goal was always going to come, but did it really need to come in such a fashion, just 6 minutes after half time? Filip Sebo lost the ball in midfield, and the resulting attack led to Jantscher’s cross being turned into his own net by Marion Had.  If he’d have left it, there would have been no danger, if he’d have booted it out of the ground, it would also have been fine, but Had tried to do something delicate, and the result basically completed the compilation of shocking defensive moments by Slovan in Europe this season.

Slovan did create a few more chances, one 3 against 2 opportunity was very reminiscent of the way they failed to score against 9 men of PSG.  But the matched petered out with the result exactly as required by Salzburg.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when Lukas Hartig came on towards the end.  We now had 4 strikers on the field, I think that’s the first time I’d ever seen that from Slovan. Playing a 4-2-4 formation we totally lost our structure and never looked like scoring.

"We Love Red Bull"

Salzburg celebrated with their fans as Guede limped away from the bench, the players now have 3 weeks rest before the January preparations begin, but Slovan looked shattered.  They gave their all again, but came up short, especially defensively, but also tactically.  We’ve seen it before, there are glimpses of quality, but wild inconsistency like this is what has led to Slovan finishing bottom of the group with just the 1 point.

Their achievements have netted them €1.07 Million, nothing by European standards, but still something in Slovakia.  The question is how they shape up come Spring.  Contracts need to be renegotiated, some players need to be released and others signed to be in a stronger position going into Europe next season.  For now, a stadium worthy of European football and performances to match the achievements of Legia Warsaw, Wisla Krakow and Viktoria Plzen remain a distant dream here in Bratislava …

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Slovan Bratislava 2-3 Red Bull Salzburg”

  1.   Jameson 16 Dec 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Enjoyed this Dan. Good memento of the night.

    I don’t have much to add to it either. The hot wine at the ground was a really nice bonus and suddenly I realise I’ll feel a bit of nostalgia for Pasienky when/if they ever knock it down.

    As for the game, playing Lacny up front between Sebo and Halenar obviously had Salzburg fooled for a while. After those first 6 mins, though, Slovan were like a boxer who decks his man in the 1st round, then helps him up and says ‘your turn to knock me down’. The Leonardo goal was well-taken but it was awful, awful defending – certainly from Kolcak and Kladrubsky, with Hrosso not covering himself in glory either. And, as I recall, we knew the 3rd was coming the moment Sebo gave the ball away.

    ‘Glimpses of quality…. but……wild inconsistency’ is also very true.
    They’ll learn from it, though, and if at least some of the squad stay together, it could be a case of do better next time.

    And how do you rate Salzburg’s chances? I see they’ve drawn Charkov – hardly a glamour tie but should be a good contest. Their defence and keeper didn’t have a good night on Weds – at least not a good first 6 mins – and that Maierhoffer didn’t impress me at all, but they were good in midfield. Svento seems to have been converted to a sort of deep playmaker (and did pretty well) and Leonardo was the best player on the pitch.

    Good evening out anyway!

  2.   StaryJazvecon 16 Dec 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Think you sld assign a BB minion to put together “the compilation of shocking defensive moments by Slovan in Europe this season” from youtube to provide all your loyal readers w/ some festive cheer. What do you reckon?

  3.   britskibelasion 16 Dec 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Cheers James, you think they might knock Pasienky down?! Stary and I were speculating that we must go and see Inter while they’re still playing on a school-playing field down the road – maybe it won’t be so long before they’re back at Pasienky – the next chapter of the crazy Bratislava football-roundabout!

    As for Red Bull up against Metalist, well I would be very wary of the Ukrainian’s performances in Europe so far this season – including comprehensive home and away wins against Austria Vienna. Salzburg looked OK, but in a group containing poor opposition in Slovan, and an apparently disinterested PSG. There are some decent teams in that EL draw, so I guess they’ll settle for it, however I’d expect Metalist to progress. Maierhoffer was useless wasn’t he?!

    Stary – that video compilation would be amusing enough – I’ll let you know when I have some more time on my hands ;-)

  4.   Richon 17 Dec 2011 at 11:46 am

    Another good read – entertaining as ever!
    In fairness the quality of Slovan’s group always looked like making it a tricky European adventure this time.
    What is there to look forward to for Slovan after the Winter break? Is it realistic to see Europa League qualification next year?

  5.   britskibelasion 17 Dec 2011 at 11:53 am

    Cheers Rich, well they play an indoor tournament against Trnava, Zilina, Slavia & Sparta Prague in early January, that’s about the highlight of things before a series of friendly matches and a training camp in Spain throughout January / early February. Basically it’s a long old wait for the Spring season to start.

    Title race is still wide open, Slovan still have a good chance at that, although a few other clubs will fancy giving them more of a run for their money than last season. So it would be very surprising if Slovan don’t make European qualification rounds next season, if they actually make the group stages again depends a lot on if they manage to keep their best players, improve the squad further and get rid of some of the poor acquisitions they made recently.

    We’ll see – latest rumour is linking coach Weiss with Dinamo Zagreb…

  6.   Jameson 17 Dec 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Hartig’s already gone, apparently! Inconceivable to me that Slovan won’t be back in Europe next season but the title depends on what sort of squad they have in Feb. In other words, I think they shd be favourites as of now.

    But I’d say all the top 4 all have sth going for them, as follows :

    Zilina play the best football ; Slovan currently have the strongest squad and best winning mentality ; Trnava have the league’s best individual player and biggest personality and IF they really get on a run, the best support ; Senica have the best defence and (very) arguably the best coach. ZM and Ruza have done well – and respect to them – but are not genuine contenders just yet.

    About that video, I think you’d be amused if you came to Zilina. Before every home game, they show the three (yes, all three) goals scored in last season’s CL group stage from all angles and on a continuous loop. It’s good, as two were against Chelsea – one a real Pat and Mat moment between Cech and Alex with Terry glowering nearby, the other an elegant dance through the defence by Jez and Bello. But the 19 goals put in our net in the 6 games are completely ignored. I’m almost persuaded they never actually happened….

  7.   StaryJazvecon 18 Dec 2011 at 4:30 am

    I wld go Slovan 1.8, Zilina 2.5, the rest whatever.

  8.   John Wilcoxon 21 Dec 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Sounds like a good trip!

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