Illustration photo – Match of the 22nd round of the first football league: Dynamo České Budějovice – SK Slavia Prague, March 5, 2023 in České Budějovice. From left, goalkeeper Ondřej Kolář from Slavia, Qadri Adediran from České Budějovice and Oscar from Slavia.
Prague – The direct fight for first place in the table between Slavia and Pilsen players will be the highlight of the weekend's 23rd league round. The people of Prague hold a one-point advantage over the defending champion from West Bohemia, and in the sold-out Eden, they will defend their 100% home record in this season's top competition. Both teams are looking to make up for past faltering. Third-placed Sparta, which is only two points behind Slavia, will also play in Ostrava on Saturday. After the dismissal of coach Jiří Jarošík, Teplice will lead Zdenko Frťala for the first time in the home game against the newcomer from Brno.
Both Slavia and Plzeň won only one of the last three rounds, and Sparta almost caught up to them before the expected duel. According to the bookmakers, Vršovičí will go into the match as clear favourites. In autumn, after the early expulsion of Eduard Santos, they suffered a 0:3 defeat in Pilsen, but before that they had not lost ten times in a row against Viktoria in the cup total. At home, West Bohemia scored points in the last 11 matches, although Pilsen won the title last May with a 1:1 draw in Eden.
The Slavists want to atone for the past 0:1 defeat in České Budějovice and confirm the balance at home, where they won all 11 duels in the league season. “We want to build on the good performances at home. The home record is great, the team is confident at home. We all always look forward to the most important matches when the stadium is sold out and full. We believe that we will perform well, excite the fans and go after what we want. We want to win the match. Pilsen is a complex team, it will be about finding loopholes where we could have the upper hand,” said Slavia coach Jindřich Trpišovský.
Last time, Plzeň only drew with Olomouc 1:1 and won only three of the last seven rounds. However, Viktoria is still the best team in the competition away from home, where they won 24 points and only suffered a defeat last time in Slovakia. The West Bohemians believe that they will finally break the almost nine-year wait for a victory from Eden.
“According to the past, it is the case that Slavia is the favorite. But that we would have it completely in our heads and go to Eden with that we didn't win there for a long time and were shaking, that's certainly not the case. It's time for us to break through and take all the points. We have to be brave going forward,” said Pilsen captain Lukáš Hejda, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Thursday.
In the second hit of the weekend, Sparta will defend its current winning streak against its traditional rival from Ostrava. Letenští lost only two points for a draw in the last nine rounds and won five times in a row in the league. Ostrava, on the other hand, has not won four times in a row in the highest competition and is only twelfth in the table. Sparta has not lost in the league with Baník in the last 12 matches and in November they also beat him in the cup.
“We are in good form now, but we need to stay hungry and continue with the way we have been thinking. That is the most important thing. In Ostrava we are expecting an intense atmosphere in front of a full audience. We have to stick to our plan regardless of who we play,” said the assistant of the Spartans coach Lars Friis.
Banik coach Pavel Hapal is waiting for a match against his former club. “Sparta is in form, they are winning, but no series is endless. We will try to end it. I believe that, as always, the fans will help us and we will achieve a good result,” wished Hapal.
Teplice, as the worst team of the spring part of the season, played only one draw this year and in 14th place they have only two points to go to last place. After the 1:4 defeat at Sparta, the club management dismissed coach Jarošík, and coach Frťala will return to the league in the match against Brno. “It will mainly be about us, the implementation team, how we will inject some impulse into the boys' veins. Positive thinking that nothing is lost,” said Frťala.
The fourth team of the Slovácko table will present itself on the Jablonec pitch, which after three wins from the last four rounds, he moved up to tenth place. The fifth Bohemians 1905 will welcome the penultimate Pardubice in Ďolíček, where the East Bohemians had their home asylum until the winter. Thirteenth České Budějovice shocked last time with a victory over Slavia, and they will try to confirm their growing form on the field of sixth Olomouc, which drew in all six spring rounds.
Poslední Zlín will welcome seventh Hradec Králové and will strive for victory after gaining a single point from last three league matches. In the remaining duel in the duel between neighbors in the table, the eighth Mladá Boleslav will welcome the ninth Liberec. Home team coach Pavel Hoftych has led the opponents in the past, Slovan will be without head coach Luboš Kozel due to punishment for four yellow cards.