What We Learned From Paraguay vs Slovakia (2-0)

It’s A Game Of Make Believe

I’m playing a little game here while I watch this match, not because it is somehow more excruciatingly dull than any others – on the contrary it’s a pretty gripping encounter – but because I had a bit of an epiphany. This thought transformed the game for me and made it utterly compelling. I suddenly thought, Are Slovakia better than Engerland (or more realistically, Are Engerland any better than Slovakia)? And I started comparing the teams in an almost man-to-man way.  Is Slovakia’s defending conspicuously worse than Engerland’s? Is Robert Vittek the Slovakian Emile Heskey? Is Marek Hamsik their Wayne Rooney? Is Vladimir Weiss their Aaron Lennon? Ultimately, are Slovakia as disappointingly shit as Engerland?

It totally changed my view of the game as I substituted Engerland related commentary on top of the match commentary, and the game itself changed. I was thinking what are Slovakia doing the change the game, to mix things up, to get the ball back when they lose it (as they regularly do). I was thinking, what would Rhino do, why can’t the midfield actually pass it about, and most importantly, why are they always hoofing it to Heskey (sorry Vittek). Because Slovakia’s problems are identical to Engerland’s. They don’t seem to have any clear gameplan other than defend in a sub-Mourinho way and desperately hope to catch the opposition on the break. They have players who can, apparently pass to one another and control the ball, but seem unable to demonstrate this on any consistent basis, they don’t seem to have the patience (or skill? or belief?) to develop moves through the middle and rely on a hoof and hope tactic that really isn’t working for anyone at this tournament, in contrast to the Paraguayayayans who develop their moves through neat passing and use the full width of the pitch. So far the jury’s out, but Slovakia are running Engerland a close second in the race to be most rubbish.

A Different System From The Paraguayayayans

Like Chile, Paraguay have eschewed the Mourinho Discipline, instead going for a 4 – 3 – 3 formation, which they use in an attacking positive way. They also press very well and drop into a 4 – 1 – 3 – 2 defensive formation when they are being pressed by the opposing team. Their defenders even apologise to one another when they lose composure and simply hack the ball away, which is a very un-European thing to do. Certainly there was no sign of their previous hack and tackle philosophy which they used to not very much effect when playing Italy – another indication of how much teams have had to adapt their games as the tournament goes on.

Stupidly Interesting

Slovakia share the same kit design as Denmark, only theirs is blue where the Danes’ is red. If I was either country I’d feel really, really cheated.

27 Down 37 To Go 31 Teams Remaining

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