Prague, Czech Republic – Slavia Prague will head out on the pitch with a mountain to climb needing to overturn their 1-0 home defeat to Chelsea last week in Prague. Slavia Prague boss Jindrich Trpisovsky nevertheless hopes that Chelsea take them “seriously” and play Eden Hazard, who was rested last week for the first leg.
“I think currently he’s the best player in the world and I’d love for him to play,” Trpisovsky told the BBC, “because if he plays tomorrow that means Chelsea take us seriously, and if we win we would beat the best Chelsea, and we would be respected, so we hope the best players will be here.”
Chelsea hold a 1-0 lead from last week’s difficult first leg in Prague thanks Marcos Alonso’s late goal but will need to face a spirited Czech side who impressively defeated five-time Europa League champions Sevilla in the previous round. It won’t be an easy feat for the current Czech League leaders as Chelsea, who won the competition in 2013, are now on 14 games unbeaten in the competition. Of the 10 European quarter-finals they have contested since 2003-04, they have progressed from all except one.
“I am very impressed by Chelsea, the quality is just unreal, it’s like being on a different planet,” admitted Trpisovsky, “we’re going to war [tonight], so we’ve got to be ready.”
Game on, then.
Should they manage to mount an incredible come-back, Slavia Prague will face either Benfica or Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals. The Portuguese side lead 4-2 after their home leg.
Slavia Prague last reached the semi-finals of what was then called the UEFA Cup in 1996 by defeating Roma on aggregate, before losing to Bordeaux. They reached the quarter-finals of the competition again in 2000 but lost, this time to English side Leeds United. The last Czech team to reach the quarter-finals of the competition were Slavia Prague’s bitter rivals Sparta Prague in 2016, who lost to Spanish team Villarreal.