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Netherlands 2-Slovakia 1: Slovaks Leave the World Cup With Heads Held High
Posted By Paul On June 28, 2010 @ 10:54 am In World Cup 2010 | Comments Disabled
Today, Slovakia played what would turn out to be their final match of the 2010 World Cup. Despite the loss, Slovakia can be proud of their showing in today’s match and proud of their team’s overall accomplishments at this year’s world cup.
Things began poorly for the Slovaks when less than 20 minutes in, Arjen Robben scored a vintage goal for the Netherlands. However, the Slovaks kept up the fight- pushing forward when needed and defending solidly (although a bit panicky at times). The Netherlands were able to score again off of a beautiful move and a great Sneijder strike toward the end of the game, but Vittek earned a penalty in the final seconds of the match and scored a consolation goal for Slovakia- a goal which made him Slovakia’s all-time top scorer.
Overall, I believe Slovakia showed a more determined performance than the Dutch and it looked to me as though the Netherlands won on sheer talent alone. Weiss, Stoch, and Vittek in particular played very well today and threatened numerous times- if Weiss and Stoch were a bit more experienced and Vittek a bit more talented, there is no doubt in my mind that Slovakia could have advanced to the quarterfinals. In defense, Jan Mucha made a total of seven saves, at least two of which looked brilliant, while Martin Skrtel did what he had to do at times.
I’ll say again, Slovakia can leave this tournament with no regrets and with their heads high. The team played an excellent game and pulled off a thrilling upset against Italy. It was, in my eyes, enough of an accomplishment that Slovakia made it out of a group that included a feisty New Zealand, an excellent Paraguay, and the defending World Cup champions. There is no shame in losing to the Dutch, who some have going on to win the tournament. Today’s loss was not for lack of fight or determination, in the end it came down to talent and experience, and nobody can doubt that Slovakia performed better than expected today.
Most of the current Slovakia team is young enough to feature again at the next World Cup and for the 2012 Euro championships. If players like Stoch and Weiss develop, they could very well become great players. While Hamsik was mostly disappointing during this World Cup, he is definitely young enough to feature in tournaments to come- tournaments where more experience on his part can go a long way. Jan Mucha faces a battle at Everton for the #1 goalkeeping spot (which he likely won’t get), but experience in the Premier League will likely only turn him into a better player. Martin Skrtel is also young enough to be featured at the 2014 World Cup, should Slovakia again qualify, while Vlad Weiss senior seems to have recovered from a downturn and looks like a talented coach.
The future looks bright for Slovakia, and all fans of this team should be proud of and happy with their team, despite defeat. The players and staff should be happy with the end result of this tournament, for it was not lost due to a lack of heart.
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