Champions League desperation morphed into Europa League jubilation by the time last Thursday’s Play-Off Round fixtures had been concluded as for the first time on a good number of years the Czech Republic would be sending three teams into the Group Stages of UEFA competition.
Plzen did things the easy way, and were the only Czech team to do so: After a commanding first-leg victory at home Plzen waltzed into the Station Karadorde in Novi Sad and scored twice to record a 5-0 aggregate victory over Vojvodina. Liberec also did the double over their opponents, but their gritty 1-0 win in a near-capacity Stadion Pljud has to surely go down as one of the best Czech performances in Europe in many a year. It was calculated, tense and often frenetic, but it was very much a deserved result and one that continued to inflate the stock of Jindrich Trpisovsky.
Just like Plzen and Slovan, Sparta also progressed, but they conspired to shoot themselves in the foot during their frankly ridiculous 3-3 draw with Thun. After cruising into a 2-0 lead in Switzerland – to complement their 3-1 win on home soil – the Prague side shipped two goals and saw Josef Husbauer and Matej Hybs leave the game injured. Costa scored, only for Nelson Ferreira to equalise and then, with minutes remaining, Michal Breznanik got himself. It’s never easy is it? At least they went through 6-4 on aggregate.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a quartet of Synot Liga sides that made it through. After a seriously impressive display in first-leg defeat to Ajax, Jablonec couldn’t quite find their scoring boots against the Dutch maestros in the return fixture.
And so, for the Europa League draw in Monaco there were three Czech clubs present in the pots: Plzen in Pot 2, Sparta and Liberec in Pot 3. Some potentially blockbuster fixtures were on the cards thanks to the four tiered seeding system – so who’ll be playing who?
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 2nd September 2015