No defence for Viktoria Plzen
The ever-increasing crisis at Real Madrid should pause for a moment as Julen Lopetegui pits his side against the relative European minnows of Viktoria Plzen. The Czech champions are not having a great time of things either with their last four away matches - across the domestic competition and the Champions League - have seen defeats against Slavia Praga (4-0), Jablonec (3-0) and Roma (5-0) and a draw against Bohemians (2-2).
The tally of 14 goals conceded is symptomatic of their current play. Plzen have serious problems: imbalanced, poor reading of the line and a slow defence. Roma took full advantage of these weaknesses. Each of their five goals highlighting the issues of the team: a failed attempt at the offside trap by right-back Reznik (1-0); a misunderstanding between Reznik and Hejda facing up on the wing (2-0); no cover for those pushing on from deep and Limbersky failing to prevent the pass from the left (3-0); easy ball behind the centre-half Hubnik (4-0); and bad positioning from a corner (5- 0). Madrid will look to do likewise.
These types of mistakes are, in many cases, linked to the individual profile of their players. Midfielders (Hrosovsky, Pochazka and Horava) stand out more for their loss of positioning rather than for their ball recovery skills (only four per game). The full-backs lack the requirements to work neatly as a defensive unit with their central defenders, which mean they suffer in one-on-one situations when players come from deep. Providing protection to their own goal is also lacking, with no less than 12 goals being conceded this season from opponents positional attacks. These defects compromise the entire Plzen defensive structure, which can be costly without any great offensive reliability to boast of.
Their rudimentary attack is focused on the wings and the armoury often limited to crossed from wide (14 per game) and free-kicks inside the opposition half. Krmencik is the perfect foil for this approach and his movement both inside and outside the area, can provide the opposition with problems.
The first half of the group game against CSKA Moscow brought out the best in this side as Plzen looked to switch play through their midfielders in an attempt to gain an advantage from wide and then create from there. It was strange to see the efficiency of Limbersky launching attacks with the outside of his right boot. Some glimpses of their strategy may be seen but they are a long way from the levels demanded by the Champions League.