Tag Archives: slavia praha

Cup tie abandoned after Slavia Praha violence

A pitch invasion by disgruntled Slavia fans caused the abandonment of the first leg of their cup semi-final against Sigma Olomouc on Thursday (5/5/11). The exasperated mob invaded the corporate areas of their own ground, ransacking the executive boxes in an attempt to find some answers regarding the club’s arcane ownership structure and precarious future.

Slavia Praha violence

The Czech FA have not yet granted Slavia a license for the Gambrinus Liga next season as a result of their ugly balance sheet. The prospect of being ignominiously dumped in the 3rd tier next season was seemingly too much for the unruly assemblage yesterday, who underlined their displeasure by breaking stuff and loitering on the field of play.

Michal Petrák has a more detailed account of the Slavia Praha fiasco on the new and rather splendid Slavic Football Union site.

Kick-Off For Czech Football’s Spring Season

This coming weekend Czech football finally emerges from its frustrating three month hibernation with a Friday evening kick-off between Slavia Prague and Brno. For once, I thought I’d attempt to dissect the Gambrinus League table as it stands in order to provide some kind of platform for the fun and games we can look forward from now until May.

I should admit that my football predilection is rooted in club legacy and socio-political history rather than as score speculator or transfer rumour-mongerer, but the peculiar patterns in Czech football during the autumn has drawn me to attempt some examination. A quick glance at the Czech league table will reveal some obvious incongruities, with the unfamiliar Viktoria Plzeň looking down from the top, and Gambrinus league ever-presents Brno and Slavia Prague dancing with the down-and-outs, desperate to evade a descent into the void.

How the spring season pans out is anybody’s guess. Czech football’s November to February hiatus and inferior purchasing power means that the clubs’ squads have a vastly different look to those that competed during the autumn. As such, it is not easy to predict who will continue or halt their previous form.

Of the title challengers, all three of Plzeň, Sparta Prague, and Sigma Olomouc have sold their best players over the winter, so it seems likely that the club that will prevail will be the one that can adequately procure talent and plug the gaps. Already that rules out Olomouc, ten points behind leaders Plzeň, who only last week cashed in on the Gambrinus League’s leading scorer Michal Hubník, as he jigged his merry way to Poland’s Ekstraklasa with Legia Warsaw.

This leaves an absorbing two-horse race between title holders Sparta and free-scoring, 2009/10 Czech Cup Champions, Viktoria Plzeň. Of course, it could have been done and dusted by now, with Plzeň ceding a one time 12-point advantage, now only a buffer of four. Nonetheless, the spring season is a real dash to the finish with only 13 rounds of games remaining. Plzeň have already travelled and won at Sparta’s Letná, and so they have more than a good chance of clinging on for their first ever league title.

Sparta 0 - 1 Plzeň

The winter break has seen Plzeň lose their central defensive partnership of Tomáš Rada and Jakub Navrátil to Turkish side Sivasspor, but the club’s revered coach Pavel Vrba has replaced them with the useful Aleš Neuwirth and Petr Trapp from Baník Ostrava and Slavia Prague respectively. In addition, the talented international Martin Fillo has returned from Norway in pursuit of glory with his hometown club.

Sparta Prague, meanwhile, will be determined to retain their crown in the hope of clinching a Champions League place following this season’s successful run in the Europa League. The task has been made all the harder by the sale of their best player and midfield general Juraj Kucka to Genoa, and leading scorer Bony Wilfried to Vitesse Arnhem. Sparta’s reinforcements include the talented young striker Tomáš Pekhart from Jablonec, and centre-back Tomáš Zapotočný, who led Slovan Liberec to league glory in 2005. While Sparta have the talent and the cash to overhaul Plzeň, they have been dealt a blow with the suspension of star strikers Kadlec and Pekhart following the farcical shirt deception episode. Depending on your view of cup-runs as a distraction or facilitator, Sparta also have a crunch Europe League tie with Liverpool to contend.

Down at the bottom, we’ve an ugly scrap to look forward to amongst a number of clubs. Ustí nad Labem look as though the step up to the Gambrinus League has been a bit too great and I would expect them to drop back. Relegation for Slavia Prague would be unthinkable, and a disaster for the league, but it remains a real danger given their fiduciary predicament, however they still possess the talent to pull away from danger. After that you can take your pick from the relegation contenders all the way up to Bohemians 1905. It would be a shame to lose second-bottom Zbrojovka Brno, but their pitiful showing during the autumn does not justify their inclusion at the top table.

The title will fall in the hands of the team that can hold it together over the final few weeks of the season. It should prove to be a thrilling finale to a surprising season in Czech football, and one that might shape the league for a number of seasons to come. Many would like to see the talented Plzeň coach Vrba rewarded for his bold, attractive style that won him plaudits in the Corgon Liga with MSK Žilina, and would see a new, provincial champion crowned in a Prague-dominated Gambrinus League. As you can see from the picture below, Vrba has the look of a man who has had it all planned out from the very beginning, so I’m siding with Plzeň on this one.

Pavel Vrba Plzen Coach

I don’t know ‘bare skillz’ in Czech

But if I did I’d be reciting it now in some kind of reverential mantra. Come to think of it ‘Hezký’ will do nicely.

This is diminutive striker Zdeněk Šenkeřik very nearly executing his career highlight while at Slavia Prague.

Tomas Necid returns to Prague

Former Slavia star Tomas Necid playing for CSKA Moscow vs Sparta

Dead rubber fixture ends 1-1 (15/12/2010). Both teams progress to Europa League latter stages. Good for Sparta and Czech league coefficient.

Slavia Praha

Full overview of the Red-Whites on the club page Slavia Praha.

Slavia Praha is one of the few Czech clubs familiar to football enthusiasts abroad due to its regular appearances in European competition.

The club has traditionally lived in Sparta’s shadow until concurrent championships in 2008 and 2009. They are big potatoes in the domestic game, having notched more than a dozen Czechoslovak titles pre-dissolution.

Slavia started life in 1892 as the sport branch of a Czech literary and debating society. Traditionally they draw their support from intelligentsia and the middle classes, and view themselves as the more refined choice than the knuckle-draggers of Sparta. As such, incongruously erudite football banners are not uncommon at home games:

 

The Sešívání (Sewn-Togethereds) take their colours and red star from the independent Czech flag of the day, and are by no means associated with the previous Communist regime of yesteryear.

Slavia Praha have had a relatively turbulent recent history having been exiled at the former national stadium in isolated Strahov for eight years. In 2008 the club triumphantly returned to their spiritual home in Prague’s 10th district, celebrating their grandiose 21,000-seater stadium with their first title since 1996.

from slavia.cz

A third Czech title followed in 2009 and a new world order in the Czech game looked to be developing. However, the red-whites stumbled to 7th in 2010, missing out on European football for 2010/11 and the crucial revenue streams it produces. Compounding the problem, former owners ENIC (a British firm) are demanding repayments owed to them, leaving Slavia financially squeezed.

The club continues to struggle on and off the turf, but the severity of Slavia’s atrophy has taken most by surprise and they are fighting to avoid relegation in 2011. Should the unthinkable occur, the Gambrinus Liga will lose one of the largest and well-supported sporting institutions in the Czech Republic, and will become far weaker as a result.