Slovan Bratislava: Five Players to Watch
Slovakian resident Dan Richardson runs the website Britski Belasi so who better to bring us five Slovan Bratislava players to watch against PSG on Thursday night.
Slovan have managed to provide their fans with the full range of emotions already this season. The Champions League qualifying campaign quickly petered out against a clearly superior APOEL Nicosia team, and the ensuing pairing with AS Roma in the Europa League was sure to spell the end of European football for another season. But it didn’t!
Against all the odds, Vladimir Weiss produced one of the heroic David v Goliath victories he has become somewhat famous for after his days with Artmedia and then the Slovak National Team. That result was one of the best in Slovan’s history but since reaching that pinnacle the team is struggling to maintain any kind of form.
The extra demand all these qualifying matches is putting on a relatively threadbare squad, by European standards, means the Roma result looks like being the high-point of the season. Domestically Slovan haven’t found their form at all yet this season and 4th place in a league which clearly lacks the quality of those our Europa League opposition play in is a sad reflection of where we are today. 2 defeats in the first 2 matches where we could have hoped for at least a draw mean that there is little optimism around as we face arguably the strongest opposition of the season so far.
With so many new signings, and senior players currently under-performing, a piece on 5 players to watch will inevitably read very different today to if I had written it just a couple of months ago, but I’ll give it a go anyway:
#1 Marian Had
Weiss builds his tactics on his defence, and this is one reason why he manages to achieve results against superior opposition. Had has been very impressive this season, is very strong in the air, and likes to come forward for set-pieces. Has played in Russia and Portugal but never quite made it abroad. Slovan can be very grateful for his services, and at 29 could still have a lot to offer.
#2 Jiri Kladrubsky
Signed last summer from Sparta Prague, Slovakia’s most expensive footballing import promised so much in his early performances for Slovan. Since then he has become almost anonymous and is really struggling to find his way with Vladimir Weiss. Withdrawn after just 30 minutes of the last league game with an angry kick of the dug-out, there are question marks over whether he will play against PSG. If he does though, watch out for a fierce long-distance shot. Kladrubsky rediscovering some shooting form will be one of Slovan’s few hopes of a goal.
#3 Marko Milinkovic
Serbian attacking midfielder signed from MFK Kosice last year, Milinkovic was in good form early in the season, but then fell out of favour as Weiss took over the reigns. He seems to have rediscovered his form recently though, and is now a preferred starter and one of the few bright lights in an attack which has produced so very little in recent weeks.
#4 Filip Sebo
Everyone’s heard of him, he’s by far the most famous player at Slovan. Couldn’t stop scoring goals at the end of last season, but unfortunately is now starting to demonstrate why he never quite made it in any of Europe’s bigger leagues. Turned down a transfer to Hannover to stay at Slovan this season, at least he still gets regular first team football. Will run all night, but unfortunately almost always chasing lost causes as Slovan try to create something with Sebo as the single striker. Another chance for him to produce something at the highest level, let’s see what he can do.
#5 Karim Guede
Recently gained his Slovak citizenship and has featured in the sorry end to Slovakia’s Euro 2012 qualfying campaign. Along with Sebo, won’t stop running, is very physical, collects and distributes a lot of ball from the back of midfield. Strong runs forward, and scores his fair share of goals. French-speaking, of Togolese origin, Slovan will need Guede’s absolute best to have any chance against PSG. Possibly starting to feel the effect of so much being put on his shoulders over an intensive season so far, but Guede will be one of the best players on show on Thursday night.