Mar 14 2013

Slovakia squad for Lithuania & Sweden

Published by at 2:28 am under Uncategorized

Below is Slovakia’s squad for the two late-March home games – the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania (Friday 22nd) and the friendly against Sweden (Tuesday 26th). Both will be played in (hurrah!) Žilina.

But what do we notice about this list? I would say the most significant thing is the missing names, especially those of Vladimír Weiss and Miroslav Stoch. A space has actually been left open for Weiss – there are 22 players in this squad, as opposed to the usual 23 – but he suffered a minor injury in Pescara’s last league game and is going for a scan. If he is deemed unfit after that, Stanislav Griga and Michal Hipp will call up someone from the reserve list, possibly Trenčín’s František Kubík.

Róbert Vittek, whose international comeback lasted just 12 minutes of last month’s friendly in Belgium, is still ruled out, as is Mainz defender Radoslav Zabavník, who recently suffered mild concussion. Coming back to the squad are the Plzeň pair, Marián Čišovský and Marek Bakoš, along with Ľubomír Guldan, Filip Hološko and Martin Jakubko. Players will, as always with Slovak squads, be flying in from far and wide, but Čišovský, Bakoš and Michal Ďuriš do make Plzeň the most represented single club. There are three players too from the Corgoň Liga ; Slovan Bratislava’s Matúš Putnocký and Lukás Pauschek and Žilina’s Viktor Pečovský.

The Lithuania game is, of course, the more important of the two fixtures, and only a victory will maintain Slovakia’s hopes of going to Brazil. Ideally, they will start as they did against Latvia last October (you can’t ask for much more than two goals within the first ten minutes) but avoid the nervous finish. And they certainly can’t afford to concede an early, avoidable goal from a set-piece, as they did in September’s damaging 1-1 draw in Vilnius.

It’s probably pointless to attempt to guess the starting line-up ten days ahead of the game, but the temptation to speculate over some selections is difficult to resist. I’d rather like to see Pauschek get a start in one of the full-back positions. He is versatile enough to play in either but, since both Dušan Švento and Marek Čech are left-sided, has more chance of claiming the right-back spot.

The midfield combination will be interesting. Pečovský and Guldan are both essentially defensive and are not going to play together in a game where attack will have to be the priority. Assuming no late injuries, Marek Hamšík and Marek Sapara will definitely start, and Juraj Kucka probably will. The likelihood is that Hamšík will be on the left of the attacking midfield three, with Sapara  between him and a right-sided attacker, possibly Róbert Mak, whose speed and directness gave Belgium plenty to think about in last month’s game.

Then there’s the troublesome question of who to play up front. I’d go for Martin Jakubko, the only recognised striker to score for Slovakia since Hološko (in a friendly against Denmark)nearly two years ago. Hološko himself, with his height, pace and recent club form, is a tempting alternative, but he has often been frustrating at international level.

The decision to play these games in Žilina has given me what I wanted. Hopefully, the rest of the locals will now come out and support. Tickets are being sold for the individual games(€30 on the sides, €15 behind the goals), or as a package (€50 and €25 respectively). This being Žilina, where all the stands are close to the pitch, the behind the goal seats are by far the better value. I’ve got mine – the only problem now will be remembering NOT to support the team in yellow and green at the Lithuania game….

Squad

GOALKEEPERS
Dušan Kuciak (Legia Varšava)
Dušan Perniš (Pogoň Štetín)
Matúš Putnocký (ŠK Slovan Bratislava)

DEFENDERS
Lukáš Pauschek (ŠK Slovan Bratislava)
Marián Čišovský (FC Viktoria Plzeň)
Martin Škrtel (FC Liverpool)
Kornel Saláta (FK Rostov)
Ján Ďurica (Lokomotiv Moskva)
Tomáš Hubočan (Zenit Petrohrad)
Dušan Švento (Red Bull Salzburg)
Marek Čech (Trabzonspor AS)

MIDFIELDERS
Ľubomír Guldan (Ludogorec Razgrad)
Viktor Pečovský (MŠK Žilina)
Juraj Kucka (FC Janov)
Marek Sapara (Trabzonspor AS)
Richard Lásik (Brescia Calcio)
Marek Hamšík (SSC Neapol)
Róbert Mak (1. FC Norimberg)

FORWARDS
Michal Ďuriš (FC Viktoria Plzeň)
Marek Bakoš (FC Viktoria Plzeň)
Martin Jakubko (FC Amkar Perm)
Filip Hološko (Besiktas Istanbul

James Baxter

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