POZOR – I am coming back
For inexplicable reasons, I (together with two friends) are going on back-to-back weekends of football extravaganza (aka Sh’t Football Weekend and The Return of the Sh’t Football Weekend – not my title, but that given by a Newcastle fan so I will have to accept it).
Sh’t Football Weekend begins in Prague and will end for me at least back here in Budapest. The schedule is as follows:
Friday 27 March
Czech Republic U21 – England U21
Saturday 28 March
Loko Vltavin vs Chomotuv (Czech 3rd Division)
Czech Republic – Latvia
Sunday 29 March
Hungary – Greece
I think you can all agree that this is a feast of football. Doing a full preview/review cycle for each of these is probably outside my ability given my total lack of knowledge of Czech football (Does Pavel Nedved still play? Has Karel Poborsky (sp) cut his hair?) so I will split the Sh’t Weeked of Football into two. This post will focus (very briefly) on the Prague leg of my trip whereas Hungary – Greece is covered in this post (https://timmybacsi.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/gyros-and-palinka-hungary-greece-preview/).
The context of this game is as a warm-up for the upcoming European U21 Championships to take place this summer in (guess where) Czech Republic. England in an unbelievable amount of foreplanning is using the days leading up to the game to test out their base for the summer in Olomouc before travelling to Prague to face the Czech youngsters. England team looks strong enough, but would surely benefit from the likes of Kane, Oxlade-Chambers, Barkley and Sterling (some or all of whom may possibly be called up for the summer tournament). This fits into the ongoing question as to whether youngsters should i) complete their international development at U21 level or ii) be ruled out from dropping back to the youngsters after receiving senior recognition. Someone like Harry Kane could be facing two summer tournaments in a row and the inevitable burnout that follows.
The Czech team have Chelsea centre-back Tomas Kalas and Watford striker Matej Vydra as players of note. Beyond that…
Hopefully the game will be an entertaining one rather than two countries probing each other against a potential (if unlikely) knock-out game against each other in the summer.
The might of Latvia present the next obstacle for a Czech team that seem to be coasting to qualification in a relatively difficult group (Netherlands, Turkey and Iceland) having won all four of their games to date (Netherlands (H), Turkey (A), Kazakhstan (A), Iceland (H)). Latvia have had a more troubled start and chances of them repeating the exploits of 2004 remain merely a distant memory.
A win for the Czechs will see them consolidate their position at the top and (depending on the Netherlands-Turkey game) pull clear from third and/or fourth position. Looking through the Latvian squad, I can say that there are no players of any note (although it does remind me that all Latvian male names must end in an s – Eduards, Olegs, Antons and Deniss (last one seems excessive)). Czech have some clear quality (Cech, Suchy, Kadlec, Limbersky and Rosicky) with the rest of the team made up of unknown (to me) local players.
With my finger pushed into the air and wet with spittle, I will go with 3-1 to the Czechs.
Loko Vltavin vs Chomotuv
I remember my first Chomotuv game. Young boy in awe at the stadium, the smells, the sights, the atmosphere, the confusion as to why a ‘professional’ football match would kick-off at 10.15am on a Saturday. This is all a lie. I have never been to Chomotuv. In fact, I have very little confidence that I can pronounce it correctly. After brief research (Wiki), I discover it is the 20th largest down in the Czech Republic, has a zoo and is close to the German border.
A quick check on the club’s official website reveals that “Web již neexistuje”. What could this mean? Mysterious… Further research reveals that the club are currently third bottom of the Bohemian League with three to be relegated. Rivals on Saturday, Loko are safely in midtable so hopefully will have enjoyed the delights of Prague’s nightlife the day before.
The most exciting thing is that the league does not allow draws with penalty shootouts coming in to play at fulltime: two points for the winner and one for the loser. Loko bring an international flavor to the match with Martin Achille Biholong Abena, a Cameroonian who has played in France, Iran, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria and Malaysia. Interestingly he has two heels.
I cannot see beyond the Chomotuv boys in a penalty shootout. Abena to miss the crucial penalty. (If this happens, I will play the lottery).