Brno v Slovacko
Brno returned to the first division after a two-year absence, after being crowned Champions in the second division. This hadn’t happened since 1971 and they did it in an emphatic way. They didn’t do as well in their friendlies (1 win-3 draws-1 loss), with the most difficult friendly game being against Sturm Graz (0-0). In the transfer market, they strengthened their squad. Brno added experience, most notable being Hruby (goalkeeper) and Falta (midfielder), however they lack quality especially in the center backs. Out of the 5 players who left, only Barris (CM) was a starter.
For the second year in a row, Slovacko finished at the 4th place, which is a success for the club. Adding to that a Czech Cup trophy, the first in their history, then we can talk about a very successful year, perhaps the most successful year in their history. Slovacko were unbeaten (6-2-0) during the eight friendlies they gave (6/8 had a total of 2-3 goals), the strongest one being against the Turkish champions, Trabzonspor (2-2). Coach Svedik remains on the bench for the fifth season. The transfer market looked balanced for them, as two starters (last year’s top scorer Jurecka and key player Sadilek) and two bench players left, while some players were acquired to replace them. Travnik (CM) and Kozak (CF) stand out among the newly acquired players. 66% of Slovacko’s games last year finished with over 2.5 goals, indicating to just how strong they were going forward.
Brno have four consecutive wins against Slovacko in their home ground, but lack the quality required to win in the first game of the season. Slovacko although they lost two starters, they have made up for it and most of the squad remained the same. The Czech Cup winners can start with a win and I am expecting them to do exactly that on the opening day.
Teplice v Viktoria Plzen
Teplice finished at 15th last season, narrowly avoiding relegation in the Play-offs with Vlasim. Their main goal once again is to remain in the top tier. Jarosik remains in the dugout for the second year and during pre-season, oversaw Teplice notching up 2 wins and 4 losses. In their toughest game, they lost 0-1 against Dynamo Dresden. They didn’t impress in the transfer market and the squad looks weakened. In total they made 7 transfers, of which only Drame (CB) and Hibs (LB, can’t participate in this game as he is on loan from Plzen) add quality and experience. 12 players left, four of which were key players, with Fortelny being the biggest loss (CM, 7 goals/8 assists last year). Last year they conceded goals in 78% of their home games, which doesn’t make for great reading when Viktoria Plzen visit the AGC Arena Na Stinadlech.
Plzen won the title in the Czech Republic putting a stop in Slavia Prague’s dominance (three times in a row) and taking advantage of the fact that they had no European commitments. They demolished Helsinki with an impressive 5-0 in the second qualifying round of the Champions League midweek and secured a place in the group stage of European competitions, which will boost their finances. During pre-season they played seven friendly games. Coach Bilek remains in the dugout having first taken over in May 2021. In the transfer market, Plzen look strengthened as they added depth in their roster in almost every position, although they lost last year’s top scorer, Beaguel. Plzen’s 17/26 wins last year were by one goal.
Teplice seem weakened and are a clear favourite for relegation once again. Plzen showed against Helsinki that they not only remain cynical but can also be impressive and take chances when they are presented. The Czech champions are more ready and can start with a win. In their five most recent games against Teplice, they have five wins without conceding a goal (11-0).
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