Can Marek Hamšík Inspire Slovakia To Progress At Euro 2016?


This summer Slovakia will play at their first European Championships, with their first game coming against Wales on the eleventh of June at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.

Like the Welsh, Slovakia have a talismanic, creative talent that they turn to when they need some inspiration.

In the case of the Slovaks they look to Marek Hamšík.

The attacking midfielder has continued to star for Napoli in recent seasons and will be looking to impress on the international stage.

Hamšík is an extremely versatile player who can play in a wide variety of attacking positions but seems to work best when starting in a central role. He is an elegant footballer, who can often drift anywhere on the park to find space, use both feet to great effect and cause panic amongst opposing teams defences.

Last term for the Partenopei, Marek scored six times and created eleven assists as he helped the club finish in second place of Serie A.

At Napoli he wears the captain’s armband, while he is vice-captain to Martin Škrtel with the national team. He’s the type of player who thrives with the added responsibility and who leads by example with his attitude and high performance levels. He always seems available for selection both for club and country. He started in all of Napoli’s 38 Serie A fixtures and is Slovakia’s second most capped player with his 86 caps (He has bagged 18 international goals).

Slovak coach Jan Kozak likes to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation and that allows Hamšík to play in his favoured attacking central midfielder role. That allows him to see plenty of the ball and it helps confuse the opposition as he’s hard to pick up. Having the two holding players playing behind him makes it easier for him to concentrate on his offensive duties. One of those men will be AC Milan’s energetic middle-man Juraj Kucka

You get the sense that Marek Hamšík is a level-headed footballer that likes to be seen as his teams hero. That’s why he has rejected advances from other clubs and stayed in Naples and why he consistently turns up giving his all for his country.

It would be wrong to consider Slovakia to be a one man team.

On the wings they have two experienced wingers in Miroslav Stoch and Vladimír Weiss. Players who may not have reached their full potentials at club level but who will always give their all for country. Both work well with star-turn Hamsik.

Regular watchers of the English Premier League will know all about their captain Martin Škrtel. The centre-back has been at Liverpool for the past nine seasons. He may have fallen out of favour recently at Anfield but he has shown there that he’s highly committed and a strong competitor in the air. Maybe his spell out at Liverpool will make him fresher for the Euros.

The back four and the goalkeeper trust each other and know each others game. They conceded just eight goals in their qualifying campaign. To do well in France you’d imagine that the defence have to remain a solid unit.

The striking department will cause Jan Kozak the greatest headache. In Adam Nemec and Michal Ďuriš he has only two recognised frontmen. Nemec is a journeyman striker who works hard for the team and is good in the air but it should be pointed out that the veteran hasn’t scored a single league goal for either of his last two clubs. While Ďuriš could be the better shout to lead the line as he completed a successful scoring year at FC Viktoria Plzeň and has scored all his four international goals in the past eight months.

The question marks surrounding the strikers will add extra pressure to Marek Hamšík’s shoulders. But as we know the twenty-eight year old usually performs well under pressure.

Slovakia are coming into this tournament full of confidence. They are currently on a seven game unbeaten run and last week they ran out 3-1 winners against World Cup holders Germany, in Germany, with magician Hamšík scoring a peach of a curing shot from outside the area. That goal tells you all about his ability to find a pocket of space and making the opposition suffer.

It should also be remembered that only Spain qualified ahead of Slovakia in their qualifying group and that the Slovaks managed to beat the Spanish 2-1 in Žilina.

They will look at Group B and see no reason why they cannot qualify as long as they play to their full potential.

Russia have no world beaters in their squad, Wales are also untested at this level and England have been known to under perform at major tournaments. With the top two of each group going through and even four of the best third-placed sides also going through Slovakia will see this as an ideal opportunity to prove themselves.

You get a sense that the opening game against Wales could be a vital one. Both teams will hope to set down early markers in the first game and get themselves into a pole position to qualify for the next stage of the competition.  Slovakia will undoubtably have to keep Gareth Bale quiet and hope that their own maestro Marek Hamšík can work his magic and once again propel them to victory.

If Hamšík can shine at these Euros, find freedom on the park and make things tick for Slovakia then I don’t doubt that they can somehow get through the group stages and find themselves in the illustrious and unpredictable knockout stages!



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