In this Slovakian Fortuna Liga matchup, Spartak Trnava turned out some promising players despite a 0-2 defeat. Manager Michal Gasparik ran a 4-3-3 that had trouble hanging on to possession. Despite a sound defense, Ruzomberok was lucky to find some cracks in it and overwhelm them in the final third, causing some miscommunications as Spartak lost hold of the game. Late on in the match Spartak was able to cause some pressure, but it was too little too late and nothing came off the surge in opportunities due to progressive and aggressive wing play.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Slovakia
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 13/09/2003
- Club: Spartak Trnava
- Career: FC Nitra (Y)
- Position: Right Center Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Sebastian Kosa is a tall (191 cm) and lanky right center back who played the whole match for Spartak. At only 19, he put in an impressive performance in spite of the loss and is well-deserving of the regular play in the league he has gotten in 2022-23. Kosa has even gotten some action in European competition (Europa Conference League). The towering center back showed some pace for his size, although he was outpaced by attackers at times and seemed to lumber around. Additionally, he did not shy away from contact in duels and had decent heading ability, especially in clearances from the box.
As a defender, Kosa played with great anticipation. Off ball, he kept his awareness up almost at all times and took his body positioning very seriously. His fundamental play led to timely clearances in and around the box and a few interceptions. Kosa’s technique and instincts were the key to his excellent off ball play. Other than some miscommunications that led to breakdowns on the goals, Kosa led Spartak’s defense well. As a 1v1 defender, he closed out quickly with his long strides and went in aggressively. Putting in his foot early for a timely stand tackle or running his marker out of play with his long strides, good hip bend, and physicality were the main ways he made stops in duels. Kosa was successful often in these situations and his tendency to step up in midfield and pursue 1v1s with aggression helped set the tone defensively. His main draw back as a defender was his recovery speed as alluded to earlier. Kosa’s instincts and positioning in defense being the level they are at his age help to overcome that.
In the buildup, Spartak’s young center back made quick decisions in the short game and delivered short and intermediate passes with ease. He did not have the most activity in distribution, but when he got the opportunity, Kosa progressed play efficiently by receiving and distributing calmly with his right. His composure on ball made him a reliable option to reset play on the attack. With this base a passer, I would like to see him continue to take strides and contribute more to the buildup.
Rating – A2
As a young center back already being selected for so many matches in the first tier, Kosa impressed me so much as Spartak’s best defender in their back four. Not only did he play a mature defensive style, but he brought some decent physical traits and potential as ball-playing defender. Kosa is doing well at the top of the Fortuna Liga, and he could be hard to ignore for clubs vying for promotion in 2. Bundesliga over the summer. I would not put it past him to perform well for a mid-table or newly promoted Bundesliga club either.
- Nationality: Nigeria
- Age: 20
- Date of birth: 16/10/2002
- Club: Spartak Trnava
- Career: 36 Lion FC
- Position: Left Central Midfielder
- Preferred foot: Right
Azeez Oseni is a short, muscular central midfielder in an attack-minded number 8 role. He stands at 168 cm with some quickness to him and was a summer loan signing from Nigeria. On February 7th, he signed permanently and has two goals and two assists in six appearances prior to this match.
On the attack, Oseni linked up play in midfield well and provided a lot of support outside the box. He distributed well from short and intermediate ranges with his dominant right foot. By hovering above the box, Oseni was able to make entry passes and send balls wide to set up crosses. In transition, Oseni would stay central and provide a support run until reaching the box. When play slowed down, his off-ball movement became him finding spaces to be an outlet central left for his teammates. Back to on-ball, Oseni had good control on the dribble and made quick, smart decisions when distributing. When given too much space atop the box, he cut in from the left and delivered a powerful long shot, although it was saved easily with a catch. His dribbling ability even saw him draw a foul outside the box for a dangerous free kick. He did not take too many risks and often knew where to move the ball before it touched his feet. He played a defined role in attack and got the job done well, although more chance creation could have come from him.
Defensively, the Nigerian midfielder displayed a high work rate despite his attack-minded play. He came back for coverage in defense and put in some tackles including a timely slide in midfield. His work rate proved to be his best aspect on defense as he pressed early in the buildup before tracking back and providing an extra body to cover the center. Oseni could work on his defensive technique so that he can be more effective unless he begins playing a more advanced role.
Rating – B1
There is not a huge amount of potential to the style of play Oseni played in this match. There is work to be done for him as a defender if he wants to make it in top leagues, but he played his role offensively well. This match lacked an “it” factor for him, though, and I have a hard time seeing him in a league much higher than this level. Oseni is still adjusting to European football, so I’m sure there is improvement and more dynamism to come as he gets more games in Slovakia.
- Nationality: Ghana
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 27/07/2001
- Club: Spartak Trnava
- Career: Right to Dream, Fortuna Dusseldorf, SC Paderborn
- Position: Right Winger
- Secondary Position: Left Winger
- Preferred foot: Left
Kelvin Ofori is a 172 cm tall winter signing from SC Paderborn in 2. Bundesliga playing in his second match for Spartak. He mainly played right winger, but at times he rotated over to the left. He used his fast pace to cut inside with his dominant left, though his right foot was not too bad either. Ofori also takes advantage of his low center of gravity and turns his marker well and is shifty overall.
Ofori’s style from the wing saw him prefer to receive the ball short at his feet with space on the wing. Following that, he cuts inside with a large burst of pace and mixes in some technicality with his dribbling. He even has enough contact balance and strength to ward off a defender while cutting inside. On one move, he made a cutback from this into a wonderful left footed pass to set up a cross. His strength on ball combined with his pace threatens the defense and speeds up the tempo quickly. Ofori’s dynamic play from the wing continues as he enters the box, and he even had a decent attempt on goal with his weaker right although it was saved. When cutting in with his right on the left he seemed comfortable, as if it was no different from dribbling inside with his dominant foot. The decisiveness and ball control led to dominant moments on the wing, and combined with his physical abilities it makes him an interesting creative threat. Creating space for himself to work with his dribbling and pace was Ofori’s key to success in this match. Due to his height, his involvement in the box off ball was limited as he would hover around the outside waiting for the ball to get to work and dribble in.
The Ghanaian winger was active in his club’s defensive tactics. Ofori dropped back deep to cover the wings and played with aggression—he was not afraid to stick his foot in for a tackle. Some of these tackles ended up successful but other times he was too aggressive and fouled. His pace helped him close space quickly and overwhelm, especially as teammates aided him in trapping an opponent against the boundary. While covering he also made an interception which he switched into transition quickly with a lefty pass. His quick reactions along with his pace did not just aid him on the attack as exemplified by that. On the press, Ofori continued with this aggressive, fast-paced style he brought in cover in the defensive third.
Rating – A2
Ofori seemed to be a great move on a free transfer for Spartak based on this performance. With that, a higher standard of play could be in his near future. Moving out of Germany could prove to be a smart move, as he has a platform to shine more in a smaller country while his style does not match with German clubs as much as it could in Spain. With a decent second half of the season, Ofori could bring that momentum into next season for Spartak and earn a step up.