Prague, Czech Republic – Slavia Prague takes on Premier League giants Chelsea tonight in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final. The last Czech and Central European outfit left in the competition, the Czech League leaders will have to count on the support of a packed Eden Arena in order to emulate their outstanding performance of the previous round which saw them defeat five-time Europa League champions Sevilla in extra-time.
This will be the first competitive meeting between Slavia Prague and Chelsea. Kick-off is at 9pm.
Chelsea, who won the competition in 2013 and are still on 13 games unbeaten in the competition, is undoubtedly one of the toughest draws Slavia Prague could have expected. Good news is that a “tired” Eden Hazard could be rested by Chelsea, who plays a crucial game against Liverpool over the weekend, with the manager expected to make “five or six changes” in Prague, according to BBC Sport.
Other games include Arsenal-Napoli, Benfica-Eintracht Frankfurt and the all-Spanish draw, Villarreal-Valencia. Return legs will take place next Thursday, with Slavia Prague making the perilous trip to London’s Stanford Bridge.
Whatever the result, the Červenobílí and their fans can be proud of their impressive performance in this year’s competition which culminated with last month’s dramatic victory against Sevilla which sent the Eden Arena into raptures.
Slavia Prague last reached the semi-finals of what was then called the UEFA Cup in 1996 by defeating Roma on aggregate, but lost against Bordeaux. They reached the quarter-finals of the competition again in 2000 but lost again, this time to English side Leeds United. The last Czech team to reach that stage of the competition were Slavia Prague’s bitter rivals Sparta Prague in 2016, who lost to Spanish team Villarreal.
Slavia Prague currently top the Czech First League and are 7 points clear of second-placed Viktoria Plzeň, with three games to go.
This could well end up being a fantastic season for the Červenobílí.