By the same token very few sides at this level field so many players from their own country. Artmedia began with nine Slovakians on the pitch against Rangers FC on Matchday 3, and the other two were from the Czech Republic, a country that until a few years ago was joined to their own. It was fascinating to see how the team with the big heart from the little country, as their coach Vladimír Weiss described them, would compete against a side drawn from eight nations and three continents.
On paper it should have been no contest, and the sight of Artmedia's players dutifully waiting in line to pick up their kit bags from the bowels of the team coach when they arrived at Ibrox merely reinforced the impression that, if this was not men against boys, then it was hardened professionals against plucky amateurs.
The pressure was on Rangers, expected to win but under fire locally after a less than convincing start to the domestic campaign. Manager Alex McLeish was pacing the technical area after just three minutes and the anxiety among the fans was palpable. McLeish turned to them, arms aloft, imploring them to be patient.
As usual much was expected of Rangers captain Barry Ferguson, the sole Scot in their starting lineup. He began brightly, prompting his team-mates and drawing an important clearance early on from Ján Ďurica, the Artmedia central defender who had arrived with a blossoming reputation.
Another who has impressed is playmaker Ján Kozák and he did so again last night, launching counterattacks with astute passes or slowing the pace of the game intelligently and assisting his captain Balázs Borbély in breaking up play when necessary. But even he was outshone by Juraj Čobej.
With four fine saves in the first half and another three in the second, the Artmedia goalkeeper was undoubtedly the reason why the Scottish champions' admirable efforts went unrewarded. Even when he looked beaten towards the end of the first half he cleverly steered Dado Pršo so wide that the Croatian striker could only find the side-netting.
It was little wonder Čobej walked off at the interval smiling, as he had done throughout the Champions League anthem before the start. "He is a fantastic goalkeeper, a fantastic guy and a friend," said coach Weiss. "He is very calm, and his calmness rubs off on the other members of the team."
Weiss, the scorer of Slovakia's first international goal in 1994, looked exhausted and slightly bemused, especially when asked if he felt his team could go on and win Group H. "I am proud of my team," he told uefa.com. "For us it's a wonderful life at the moment, some wonderful matches - almost a miracle. We don't have a lot of money to pay players from other countries, we have only our players and four from the Czech Republic, but we have good discipline and we are very friendly between coach and players."
His opposite number McLeish seemed understandably frustrated after watching his side produce one of their best performances of the season but fail to win. They will again fancy their chances of three points in Bratislava, but with only one more home game, against group favourites FC Internazionale Milano, their hopes of progressing beyond the group stage for the first time in five attempts have clearly receded.
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