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After analysing Borussia Dortmund and Internazionale, it's time to take a look at Slavia Prague, the current Czech Republic league champions and the dark horses of a group that boasts nine European Cup wins.
Founded on November 2, 1892, Slavia Prague are one of the oldest clubs in Europe. The dominant force in the Czechoslovakian league dueing the first half of the 1900s, they went half a century without a league title before winning it again in 1996. Financial problems hit the club, but last season they won the title again for the 19th time. They have also lifted the Czech Cup on nine occasions -including the last two years.
Trajectory in Europe
Slavia Prague will be taking part in the Champions League group stage for the second time in their history this year. Their first appearance was in 2007/08, when they placed third behind Sevilla and Arsenal. Most of their European fixtures have come in the UEFA Cup (120 games), with their best finish coming in the 1995/96 season, when they were eliminated in the semifinals by Bordeaux. Last season they reached the quarter finals of the Europa League, losing 3-5 on aggregate to eventual winners Chelsea.
El 0-0 davant l'Arsenal a la fase de grups de la Champions 2007/08 va permetre a l'Slavia accedir a l'Europa League - Slavia de Praga
The current team
Last season, Slavia Prague had one of their best campaigns in recent history. They won the league with a 4-point advantage over Viktoria Plzen and won the MOL Cup, eliminating Sparta with a 3-0 victory in the semiinals and triumphing 2-0 in the final over Banik Ostrava. They have qualified for the Champions League group stage thanks to a win against Cluj.
Players to watch
Practically the entire Slavia Prague squad is of Czech nationality, with only six foreign players: Stanciu and Baluta (Romania), Ibrahim Traoré (Costa d’Ivori), Van Buren (The Netherlands), Olayinka (Nigeria) and Yusuf (Bahráin). Undoubtedly the most important player on the team is midfielder Tomas Soucek. A Czech international, the 24 year old has played more than 140 times for the club since his promotion to the first team in 2014, scoring 29 goals and providing 12 assists in that time. At 1.92 metres tall, he also poses an aerial threat.
Tomas Soucek lluitant amb Pedro en el partit d'Europa League de l'any passat a Stamford Bridge - UEFA
Despite losing their two first choice centre backs (Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui and Simon Deli), Slavia have maintained the backbone of the side that enjoyed success last season. Signings have included right back Vladimir Coufal and attackers Baluta and Olayinka, making them a dangerous team.
Coach: Jindrich Trpisovsky
Jindrich Trpisovsky has coached Slavia Prague since the 2017/18 season. Under him, the team have returned to the peak of Czech football, winning two MOL Cups and one League title in two campaigns. Trpisovsky is an experienced coach, who started in the Second Division and went on to have spells at Viktoria Zizkov and Slovan Liberec.
L'entrenador Jindrich Trpisovsky - Slavia de Praga
Precedents against Barça
Slavia Prague and Barça have never met before in European competition. Thus, this year's Champions League campaign marks the first two encounters between the two teams. They will cross paths on Wednesday, October 23 in Prague, followed by a Tuesday, November 2 fixture at the Camp Nou.
The stadium: Sinobo Stadium
Inaugurated in 1953, but demolished and rebuilt in 2008, the Sinobo Stadium is the largest and most modern in the Czech Republic, with a capacity of 20,800.
Sinobo Stadium, també anomenat Eden Arena - UEFA
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