After Slovakia’s goalless home draw with Luxembourg, fans thought that nothing worse could happen to them. But a few dozen minutes after the final whistle, they got another slap on the wrist, specifically from head coach Francesco Calzona.
The Slovaks entered the match passively, while the Luxembourgers surprised with their movement and ability to combine well in a small space. The favourite took the initiative only around the 20th minute.
And the Slovaks undoubtedly had great opportunities to reverse the result. However, Robert Polievka failed twice in a decent opportunity, as did substitute Robert Boženík at the very end. The draw was the result of poor productivity of the forwards.
“The opponent is also to blame for the result. We knew it would not be an easy game. The data was clear, we knew that this team has grown a lot. Their players are good,” said Francesco Calzona at the press conference.
Luxembourg really went up in football considering their size. In recent years, Dudelange even made it to the Europa League, and Luxembourgers are also playing in Europe’s top leagues.
Yet the Slovaks, with players from Inter Milan, Feyenoord or Napoli in the line-up, have to beat a selection that will never qualify for a major tournament in their home environment. But they weren’t even a significantly better team.
“The result is fair. Our journey is a long haul, I won’t let the results affect me. If we had played this match in September, we might have lost it 0::4,” continued the Italian coach of the Slovaks.
The Luxembourgers were better at times, but they had no chances. They lacked a quality playmaker who would have used the qualities of the skilful winger Gerson Rodrigues. The visitors could have even attacked from a corner kick to win the game, but the head referee insensitively ended the match.
In any case, the Slovaks cannot despair for long. On Sunday, they will face a crucial match against their main rival for second place – Bosnia and Herzegovina. The latter beat Iceland to start with, but the Slovaks must beat them anyway.
“As for the players, I praised them in the dressing room for their effort and that they played well. I know we have to improve, but we gave 100 percent,” Calzona said.
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