Attacking verve of Slovakia lays bare dull nature of Russia's football

Article Slovakia's midfielder Vladimir Weiss celebrates with team mates during the Euro 2016 group B football match between Russia and Slovakia at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille on June 15, 2016 - AFP

Russia are now on the brink of elimination from Euro 2016 and while many will primarily be delighted with that because of the disgraceful scenes in Marseille, the dull nature of their football is just another reason why the tournament would not lose much by losing Leonid Slutsky’s side. [REPORT: Hamsik scores stunner as Slovakia beat Russia] Slovakia by contrast showed a bit of spark and attacking verve in their 2-1 win over the Russians in Lille and looked like there might be more to come. After the game, though, there was a real sense that Marik Hamsik had already properly arrived at an international tournament. His goal and performance - and potential interest from clubs beyond Napoli - were the only other subjects to really be discussed, other of course than all the controversy surrounding Russia.

In the stadium itself, there were mercifully no repeats of the trouble that followed the final whistle in their 1-1 draw with England, and there was no real tension around the ground to match that in Lille city centre. Russian and Slovakian fans mixed well, even if there often appeared something of a chasm between their teams. Slovakia initially threatened to give Slutsky’s side the hammering that England should have. There was that much of a difference. Russia just looked so poor and slow in the first half, with Slovakia’s superior pace and vibrancy cutting them apart. The opening goal was a case in point - Vladimir Weiss tore down the left and cut in to finish with ease. It was if he was just playing the game at a different speed to Slutsky’s glacial-slow defenders. Shortly afterwards, the forward played a short corner to Hamsik, who lashed the ball into the top corner of Igor Akinfeev’s goal with the ball pleasingly flying in off the post. It was a perfect strike of the ball, one of the goals of the tournament so far, with the 28-year-old also announcing himself as potentially one of the players of the tournament. It was some way for such a vaunted star to finally score his first major competition goal and his manager Jan Kozak was afterwards all too willing to talk up a move to a bigger club, with a surprising candour.