Oct 27 2012

Žilina v Slovan Preview

Published by at 4:47 pm under Domestic

Sunday’s Žilina v Slovan game looks like the biggest in the Corgoň Liga so far this season. I say that with full respect for other matches played this weekend. There’s Košice v Senica, for example, which sees the hosts put their near-perfect home record on the line against a team with five successive wins. Or league newcomers Myjava against Trnava, the side no’one thought would be occupying bottom spot at this stage of the season.

But Žilina and Slovan have shared the last four league titles between them. They went into the weekend in second and first places respectively. Their games are usually accompanied by a bit of needle. Mutual antipathy should always be part of a fixture like this, though hopefully the occasion won’t be marred by the sort of off-field unpleasantness witnessed at three of thesides’ last four meetings at Štadión pod Dubňom.

Poor crowd behaviour at this fixture is a topic it would be tedious to go over again. However, the question of what sort of attendance there’ll be on Sunday is an interesting one, especially considering that both sets of fans are disaffected. One of Žilina’s fan-clubs continues to boycott games for a variety of reasons, most of them dubious. Meanwhile, Slovan supporters have more understandable gripes at their clubs’ stadium situation and, as this weekend, at constantly having to watch games at times dictated by the TV companies. 1900 on a Sunday is hardly most people’s ideal time to watch live football, and the weather promises to be bitterly cold, so I suspect Žilina will be pleasantly surprised if as many as 4,000 turn up.

The last time the sides met in Žilina was in April, when the hosts produced a dominant second-half performance to win 3-0. One way to read that victory was as a vindication of the policy of spreading your scouting activities. Ricardo Nunes (recently capped by South Africa) and Togo captain Serge Akakpo were both outstanding for Žilina. Slovan’s recent recruits at the time – Mário Pečalka, Kamil Kopúnek and Ondřej Smetana – all had plenty of Corgoň Liga experience with their previous clubs, but all were anonymous or poor.

Slovan haven’t altered their overall approach since, but their summer signings are working out very well. Former Senica player Nicolas Gorosito is a fixture at centre-back, while Filip Hlohovský and Lester Peltier are continuing to show the attacking capabilities they revealedwhile at Trenčín. Žilina have taken a different direction again. The players they have introduced this autumn have mostly been teenage products of the club’s youth system. It is unlikely that all of Milan Škriniar (17), Miroslav Kačer (16), Jaroslav Mihalík (18) and Peter Lupčo (17) will start on Sunday, but one or two of them will definitely have a part to play at some stage.

Then there are players making their way back after long injury lay-offs. Babatounde Issiaka Bello scored twice for Žilina in April, and even outshone Nunes and Akakpo, but he has been out for most of this season and will not be ready for Sunday. Slovan have better news about Igor Žofčák. His absence in spring was perhaps the biggest single reason his team didn’t make a better fist of retaining the title they won in 2011. They were adapting better to lifewithout him this season, but his return for last Sunday’s Košice game will still have been most welcome. If I had to name one player on either side who could decide a close game with, say, a clever through ball or a perfectly delivered set-piece, it would be Žofčák. Žilina will have the utmost respect for his abilities.

The coaches are another point of interest. Dutchman Frans Adelaar took over on the Žilina bench just two weeks after that April meeting. His brief is to continue to earn success, while improving the attractiveness of the team’s football. Whether or not he is fulfilling the second part is a debatable point, but the youngsters have been brought in on his initiative and – rather perversely - his defence is the meanest in the league. Vladimír Weiss, never quite accepted by the Slovan fans, left the club in July, ironically enough after a 1-1 draw at home to Sunday’s opponents. He was replaced by Samuel Slovák, already a Slovan legend for the 169 appearances he made for them over three spells as a player. Not even Slovák’s presence has been able to get the Slovan fans flocking to Pasienky, but they would definitely settle fora return to their own stadium with him as coach. Plenty of patience will be required for that to happen of course, and Slovák won’t be devoting much thought to the prospect at present.

Like any good coach, he will be concentrating on the most immediate task at hand – masterminding victory over his team’s nearest rivals.

Prediction : Žilina 1 Slovan 1


James Baxter



2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Žilina v Slovan Preview”

  1.   britskibelasion 27 Oct 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Enjoyable read as ever, James.. Bitterly cold, lots of interest on and off the field, makes me pine even more for a trip back to Slovakia …

    As it is I might make for a trip to watch Raul play in 36C sunshine next weekend, although I expect to be totally underwhelmed …

    Enjoy the game, look forward to hearing about it

  2.   Jameson 28 Oct 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Cheers Dan, snow on the ground, temp isn’t going to rise above freezing all day. The undersoil heating will be needed. Still missing us?

    The game’s an interesting prospect, definitely curious to see what Samo Slovak’s done with Slovan. He’s obviously a good young coach, done well in the U21 set-up as well, and always comes across well. The team are sounding confident too.

    I trust Zilina have watched videos of Slovan losing 3-1 at Zlate Moravce last month, the only defeat they’ve suffered under Slovak so far. For those of our teenagers who play, today will be good experience.

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