One of the biggest football nations in the world, Italy, has been kicked in the ego once again by Slovakia and specifically by Vladimir Weiss, coach of both the national team and Slovan Bratislava.
After a 1-0 victory against AS Roma at home, Slovan went to Rome for the second leg of the UEFA Europa League play-offs quietly confident that they just might do enough, as one goal would mean the Italians would need to score three back.
Slovan were under a lot of pressure throughout the match, and were losing possession all too easily, but on the other hand they were determined in defence, meaning they resisted attack after attack, with a commendable performance also by the Slovan keeper.
Even though Roma went ahead after just 11 minutes thanks to a Perrotta goal from a Totti corner, the Italians came up short time and time again and just couldn’t get another goal.
Slovan eventually got a break in the 82nd minute as a loose ball dropped into the box before being met by the oncoming Štepanovský, who Weiss had tactically brought on just 10 or so minutes earlier. Štepanovský made no mistake blasting the ball into the net and smashing AS Roma’s dream.
There was not enough time left for the Italians to come back and score the required two goals, and so the match ended 1-1, putting Slovan through to the Group stage of the UEFA Europa League 2011/2012.
Coach Vladimir Weiss must be a bit of a household name in Italy by now, after he led the Slovak national team in the World Cup in 2010, where they put the Italian national team out with a dramatic 3-2 victory. The latest triumph against AS Roma has put him on a pedestal again.
After the win against AS Roma, Weiss admitted that he loved Italy, its culture and its football, and that both his big victories meant a lot to him. Weiss did not wish to criticise his counterpart, Spanish coach of AS Roma, Luis Enrique, but did say that he personally would not have taken captain Totti off the field.
Enrique commended the defending of Slovan, while saying his team has a lot of work to do on its attack.
In today’s group stage draw Slovan have been pitted up against Paris St. Germain, Athletic Bilbao and Red Bulls Salzburg, with the first match set for 15 September.