Operation Rise of a Nation
Vladimir Weiss has been Slovakia’s head coach for nearly two full years now after taking over the helm from Jan Kocian who was released after failing to qualify for EURO 2008. Much like Bob Bradley for the US, he is one of the few managers that coaches his own son also named Vladimir Weiss. Young Weiss plays for Manchester City and his grandfather was the original Slovakian international footballer before the two of them were. Guess what his name was? Vladimir Weiss.
The Plan of Attack:
Slovakia plays a fairly straight forward version of the 4-4-2 with four back line defenders, two midfield wingers and two center midfielders, and two strikers up top. Hamsik is one of the most underrated attacking midfielders in the game and is probably the team’s most talented player overall. Look for the Napoli star to make a name for himself this summer.
The Key Troops:
Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel is the key center back and one of the few top level stars that the team has. Attacking midfielder Marek Hamsik of Napoli fame has really emerged as one of the best young talents in Serie A and is just as much a forward as he is a midfielder with his explosive style. Forward and captain Stanislav Sestak was the top scorer for Slovakia this WCQ and is another potential star. Robert Vittek should start alongside Sestak up top.
Slovakia has plenty of top tier talent, but the side is still considered underdogs to make it to the second round by most critics. This could truly be another sleeper team that has already beat many WCQ giants including Poland, Russia, and Czech Republic. They might not have as much depth as the favorites do, but Italy isn’t as good as last Cup and Paraguay and New Zealand are beatable opponents. Perhaps two draws and a victory over the All Whites will get them to the second round.
Slovakia proved that they can battle with the big boys and their story of the WCQ is about as good as any you will hear. They played in one of the tougher divisions and two underdogs narrowly prevailed over the competition. Still their two losses to Slovenia is a bit problematic considering they were supposed to be one of the weaker teams. They could beat Paraguay who had a great WCQ too, but with a lack of big stage experience for the majority of the squad and tough matches other than against New Zealand, they could struggle to earn points.
Final War Movie Rank:
Slovakia has never officially played in the World Cup final, but their former title of Czechoslovakia played in two World Cup final matches, but lost both. Slovakia doesn’t have much of a football history overall considering the nation has only been around for 17 years, but perhaps these past glory years can be Resurrected once again? It will be tough for the squad and they might discover The Thin Red Line between winning and losing.
photo credit: Andy Peatling