In a sense, this past weekend was one in which nothing happened. Those tuning in to see an upset in Prague or Uherské Hradiště were left severely disappointed; those hoping to witness their relegation-threatened side catch a break and install some breathing space between themselves and the bottom two were – for the most part – left ruing their luck. Michal Škoda’s thunderous strike threatened to upset the apple cart, but by the time the full-time whistles had sounded on Sunday afternoon, the Moravian giants were arguably no better or worse off than they were on Saturday morning.
Not even Milan Baroš’s full and frank reflection on the state of affairs in Ostrava really stood out. After all, he was repeating what many on the sidelines and in the club’s hierarchy had been thinking and because of that, his diatribe failed to register the impact that his previous verbal attacks had.
However, one corner of the country bucked the beige trend of the weekend. One green and white corner of Vršovice, to be exact.
Bohemians 1905’s 2-1 victory over Mladá Boleslav on Sunday was equal parts fortunate, scrappy and tempestuous. Mladá Boleslav, acted as the hosts and favourites; Bohemians as the underdog visitors, hoping to return to the Czech capital with what would be described as a ‘solid point’. Instead, the Klokani left central Bohemia with all three.
The deciding goal from Jakub Nečas was worthy of winning any game, let alone one as scrappy and as cynical as this. The Czech under-21 international’s first goal for Bohemians was one to remember: He picked up a stabbed pass from Dominik Mašek, and breezed past Matěj Chaluš and Lukáš Magera before having the time and composure to place his shot straight through the legs of Luděk Vejmola. It was a moment of a pace and precision found in a game of fouls, fights and free-kicks.
Even Bohemians’ manager, Martin Hašek, had a dim view of the game. “Basically,” he said to the congregation of journalists afterwards, “it was not very interesting for the spectator.”
Not that those in green and white will mind. Neither, you suspect, will those in green and white who made the trip out from Prague. With that victory, Bohemians moved onto twenty-one points and leapfrogged Jablonec into sixth. For the first time in a long while, Bohemka are closer to the scrap for European places than they are the melee down at the bottom end of the table.
A cursory glance at the standings shows that Bohemians are the league’s biggest overachievers so far and that’s even accounting for Sigma Olomouc’s surprise surge into second. Prague’s third biggest club is, at the time of writing, above giants of the Czech game such as Zbrojovka Brno and Baník Ostrava, not to mention the relative nouveau riche of Jablonec and Mladá Boleslav.
This sentence might not sit well with sections of the Bohemáci, but Bohemians are a statistical anomaly.
The Ďolíček club rank in the league for shots on target, with just forty managed in their fourteen league games so far. Even the HET Liga’s most anaemic attack and the only team to have a goals for column stuck in single figures, Zbrokovka Brno, have managed more. Their pass completion percentage of 75.2% is, again, the league’s worst, and they have also faced the third most attacks at this stage of the season. Combined and it makes grim reading.
However, Martin Hašek has made this Bohemians side extremely tough to beat. It would be easy to throw out all the usual clichés and adjectives when describing Bohemka this season, but many of them are worth mentioning. They are well organised, positionally astute, tactically aware, and defensively solid. All that combines to create a unit that’s incredibly tough to break down.
A great case and point of their ability to make life incredibly tough for their opponents came a couple of weeks ago when they made the trip out to the Doosan Arena to take on Viktoria Plzeň. Even in defeat, they gave the league leaders a true test of their attacking abilities and even forced Pavel Vrba into the uncharacteristic action of changing his tactics and personnel at halftime in a bid to break through the resolute Bohemians back four.
But can this backs-to-the-walls display last in the long term? Probably not.
That’s why the twenty point marker that Bohemians achieved this past weekend is important. By reaching that threshold, it effectively signals that they are two-thirds of the way there to retaining their top-flight status for another year. Historically, clubs with thirty points survive and those with less struggle. Ten more points and Bohemians can rest easy.
Of course, that isn’t going to happen but Martin Hašek has been managing expectations extremely well since walking into the Ďolíček dugout towards the end of last season. If we were to draw comparisons to the Premier League, then the obvious one would be Burnley (though I’m not quite sure Burhemians works as well as Zlínciester). But besides being a proponent of collective strength over individual skill, that’s about where the similarities end.
Before joining Bohemians, Hašek was in charge of a wildly entertaining Vlašim side in the second division and there is no reason as to why the forty-eight-year-old cannot install some of that attacking vigour to the green and white half of Vršovice.
With a core of young, exciting and creative attacking players at his disposal, Hašek has the tools at his disposal to do so. Dominik Mašek, Antonín Vaníček, Jakub Nečas and Martin Hašek Jr. all possess a certain spark to change games in an instant. It’s also interesting to note that for all Bohemians lack of goals, their conversion rate is actually second only to Viktoria Plzeň. Logically, if more chances and risks are taken, then Bohemians goals for tally will track upwards.
The winter break is approaching and the long time away from competitive action gives Hašek and Bohemians the chance to improve on their positive first half of the season. However, the former Sparta coach will be well aware of history: The last time Bohemians started this well as in 2011. Come the summer of 2012 they were relegated. But lightning surely won’t strike twice.
Week in Review
Round fourteen of the HET Liga began on Friday afternoon when Sparta Prague welcomed Vysočina Jihlava to the Czech capital for a Public Holiday 3pm kick-off. After spending a month on the sidelines, Václav Kadlec ensured it would be a day of celebration for the Letna club as his fourth-minute strike would somehow turn out to be the only goal of the game.
If fans at the Generali Arena felt disappointed about a lack of goals, the same couldn’t be said about those who turned up to watch the small Prague derby between Slavia and Dukla on Saturday evening.
The defending champions peppered Filip Rada’s goal and were entertaining value for their comprehensive 5-0 victory. Both Milan Škoda and Jaromír Zmrhal scored a brace, with the fifth coming from Tomáš Souček, who capped off the victory with his third in four games for club and country.
Just like Slavia, Viktoria Plzeň are hoping to progress in the Europa League and they too will be venturing beyond the Czech border this midweek. Pavel Vrba’s side enjoyed a similarly one-sided warm-up to their European sojourn, with the runaway league leaders beating Slovácko 4-1 thanks to goals from Jan Kopic, Radim Řezník and Lukáš Hejda.
The result will be some measure of revenge for Plzeň, who were surprisingly beaten by the Uherské Hradiště side in the MOL Cup 4th Round during the international break.
The final side preparing for a Europa League away day is Zlín, who conceded early and late in the game to fall to second-placed Sigma Olomouc. Tomáš Chorý and Martin Hála were the goalscorers for the Hanáci club and the result sees Zlín, winless in their past four league games, slip to tenth.
Just before the league paused for a round of international action, Karviná parted company with Jozef Weber and installed sporting director and former Vítkovice and Porto defender Lubomír Vlk as their new manager on an interim basis. The switch in manager wielded a positive response as the Silesian side picked up their first win in nearly two months as they beat Jablonec 2-1 on home soil. Stanislav Tecl opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals from Filip Panak and Jan Kalabiška ensured Vlk’s managerial debut was a successful one.
The win moves Karviná out of the bottom two, with Slovácko and the Silesian giants Baník Ostrava replacing them in the drop zone.
Baník travelled up north to take on Slovan Liberec and found themselves a goal down early on when Radim Breite opened the scoring after just three minutes. The 2004 Czech champions responded well and levelled the tie ten minutes later through Tomáš Mičola.
From then on, the match itself was fairly even but it was decided by a moment of genius when Ondřej Karafiát stepped out of the Liberec defence and played a pin-point pass through the entire Baník team to set up Radek Voltr for what would be the game’s winning goal.
With Karviná, Slovácko, Jihlava and Baník all losing, the biggest winners this weekend were Zbrojovka Brno who move up to thirteenth.
Despite picking up a vital three points in the battle against relegation, the Moravian side were extremely fortunate in the manner of their victory and played more than half of their game against Teplice with ten men after Francis Koné was given his marching orders shortly before halftime. Substitute Michal Škoda, with practically his first touch, volleyed in a late winner – a strike that will surely be among the goal of the season contenders come May.
And finally, referee Pavel Orel had a busy afternoon, brandishing eight yellow cards and one red card in a tempestuous clash between Mladá Boleslav and Bohemians 1905 on Sunday afternoon. Young centre-back Matěj Chaluš was dismissed late on after picking up his second yellow card for rugby-tackling Benajim Tetteh down to the ground. The game itself was scrappy, though it was settled by a moment of brilliance from Jakub Nečas
HET Liga Results
Friday 17th November
Sparta Prague 1-0 Vysočina Jihlava
Saturday 18th November
Sigma Olomouc 2-0 Zlín
Slavia Prague 5-0 Dukla Prague
Slovácko 1-4 Viktoria Plzeň
Slovan Liberec 2-1 Baník Ostrava
Zbrojovka Brno 1-0 Teplice
Sunday 19th November
Karviná 2-1 Jablonec
Mladá Boleslav 1-2 Bohemians 1905
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 25th November 2017