Prague, Czech Republic – Cross-city rivals Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague are facing off tonight at Slavia’s Eden Arena in their Czech cup semi-final. Baník Ostrava host a third Prague-based club, Bohemians 1905, in the second semi-final.
An important and explosive rivalry in Czech football, the Prague derby, known as the Derby of the “Prague S” – Derby pražských S, in Czech – will be the 293rd since the two teams were founded in the late 19th century. Despite Slavia’s recent resurgence, Sparta still have the edge, having won 132 of the encounters, against 90 for Slavia. The last three derbies between the two Prague clubs, who are considered to be the most successful clubs in Czech football history, have however ended in draws.
But thanks to the beauty of knockout football, a draw won’t be in the cards tonight and Slavia Prague are the favourites to win it, according to the sites reviewed by mytopsportsbooks.com. The current Czech League leaders have indeed won the last four encounters between the two teams when they met in the Czech Cup, with Sparta Prague last winning a knock-out game against their cross-city rivals in 1996.
Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague were founded in 1892 and 1893, with the first Prague derby held on 29 March 1896 and finishing in a goalless draw.
Like many derbies in football (El Clásico in Spain, the Milan Derby in Italy, the Old Firm in Scotland or El Super Clásico in Argentina), “Prague S” represents much more than a mere game of football between two teams. It is also the confrontation between two districts of the city – Sparta representing Letná in the West, while Slavia lies in Vršovice in the East – as well as a class struggle. Historically, Slavia, the oldest club in Czech football, represented the intellectuals while Sparta was supported by the working class. Hated by the Communists for its ties to the middle class and the elite, Slavia was actually nearly killed off by the communist regime who stripped it of its original stadium in the Letná plain and built a new Sparta stadium near its vicinity, thereby moving Slavia to another district of the capital.
Yet, Sparta Prague, who won more than half of league titles since 1993, remains often seen as the rich arrogant club who’s always favourite to win the league, thereby relegating Slavia to the role of underdog for most of the past century.
In recent years, however, Slavia Prague, who were taken over by the Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy in 2015 following a string of economic difficulties, have been challenging the rule of Sparta Prague winning the League in 2017 and the Cup in 2018. Slavia Prague, who are enjoying one of their best seasons so far, having reached the Europa League quarter-finals for the first time since 2000, currently top the Czech League, 4 points clear of Champions Viktoria Plzeň. Sparta Prague lags 15 points behind in third position. All three teams have so far qualified for the end of season play-offs.
If you have nothing planned for tonight and you’re looking for something a bit different to spice up your daily routines, head out to Vršovice or to any pub in town, and watch the Prague Derby. But be prepared, it might get loud…
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