Viktoria Plzeň stands in the way of the New Saints who hope to prevent the Welsh side from progressing to the UEFA Europa Conference League, but who is the Czech side?
In 2009, if you ask most people with a basic knowledge of the Czech Republic about the city of Plzen, the first thing that will probably come to your mind would be the Pilsner Urquell brewery, where the original Pilsner beer originated there. over 150 years ago.
The reason why 2009 is mentioned is that you could also talk about Viktoria Plzen, a football team which has enjoyed recent success on the national and European stage.
This Thursday the Czech side stands in the way of TNS and the next round of the European Conference League and here’s a look at the West Bohemian club.
Viktoria was founded by a railroad official from the city of Plzen in 1911 and although they were originally amateurs, the club enjoyed early success in Spain where on his first trip abroad, he won six of his nine matches on tour. Upon their return, it was decided that the club would turn pro and enter the national league.
For much of their existence, Viktoria has been a yo-yo team, spending so much time in the second and first tier of the Czech league and other than finishing second in the Czechoslovakia Cup, they have had little success. . It was until 2010.
A change of president in 2010 saw Tomas Paclik appoint Pavel Vrba as new manager and with it brought the most successful period in the history of the club. After winning the Czech Republic Cup in 2010, the club won their first league title in 2011 and have been a dominant force in domestic football ever since. Five league titles in eight years and good performances in Europe have consolidated Viktoria’s place among the best Czech teams.
The original stadium, the Mesta Plzen Stadium, was opened in 1955 for regional gymnastics events known as the Spartakiad and was in dire need of reconstruction when modernization work began to meet the criteria of the UEFA.
The stadium now has 11,700 seats entirely and is located a stone’s throw from the city center and the local brewery.
It was renamed Doosan Arena.
After Pavel Vrba’s success, the club haven’t quite found a suitable replacement. In March of this year, club owner Adolf Sadek lost patience with Adrian Gula and replaced him with former national team boss Michal Bilek.
It should be noted that since Pavel Vrba left the club in 2013 the club are now on their eighth manager, only time will tell if Bilek is the right candidate for Plzen.
Well, as mentioned above, the club have enjoyed incredible success since winning the cup and their very first title.
Speaking to Plzen fans, they now see themselves as one of the top three clubs in the country, and regularly qualifying for Europe is considered a success for the club. With Slavia Prague dominating the national stage right now, this is the best they can hope for.
They finished fifth last season and it was the first time they’ve come out of the top two in 10 years.
Road to Europe.
Viktoria finished fifth in the Fortuna Liga and thus qualified for the European Conference League.
A change of manager brought a new system to the team. Michal Bilek brought in Modou N’Diaye from Taborsko to the second division and his job was to protect the four defenders. With a defensive midfielder in the squad, Plzen is now stronger at the back, but up front they don’t create as many chances as in previous years.
The team are unbeaten in the league and in Europe at the time of writing. Two wins in Fortuna Liga and two wins in Europe. Not a bad start to the season for a team that is missing 9 players due to injury.
Player to watch
Adriel Ba Loua, a delicate Ivory Coast winger who was signed from Karvina last season.
However, he did not start a game under the new manager. Czech Under-21 player Pavel Sulc has had a good start to the season and great things are expected of him.
Ultimately, if the New Saints were to be wary of a player, it would be Modou N’Diaye who has come out of nowhere to become a staple in Plzen’s midfielder.
Current sporting director and former Czech international Daniel Kolar has already scored twice for Cardiff City against Merthyr Tydfil in a test match at Penydarren Park.
(The selected image: Vachovec1)