Prague, Czech Republic – Czech police have been put on high alert in preparation of the arrival of an estimated 6,000 English supporters in Prague for Friday’s Euro 2020 qualifier between England and the Czech Republic, a fixture designated as “high risk”. The match will be played at Slavia Prague’s Eden Arena.
‘Anti-conflict units’ to patrol Prague’s street
The Guardian reports that an unprecedented number of officers, including special English‑speaking “anti-conflict units”, will patrol Prague’s tourist districts as most fans are expected to stay in town for the weekend. Criminal, traffic and helicopter units, along with police on horseback, will also be on duty. The embassy’s consular section will be on standby for emergencies and that it has prepared a video of dos and don’ts that will be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
It has been revealed that the UK’s lead police officer for football, Mark Roberts, had earlier written to UEFA to try to move the Euro 2020 qualifier from its Friday night slot to midweek or “at a time when you are not going to encourage people with a stag-do mentality to go across and cause problems”. Mark Roberts said that his request had been despite “fears the timing would increase the extent of drunken and antisocial behaviour from travelling fans”.
England’s coach Careth Southgate has also expressed serious reservations about thousands of travelling supporters descending on one of Europe’s stag-do capitals for a Friday-night fixture.
The Czech police presidium’s national football information unit, Lt-Col Jakub Schoř, said that “Prague is a very attractive city for away fans in terms of price of beer and by playing the fixture on Friday night it has a new dimension and becomes even more attractive. With such a big number of away fans, it is assumed that some misbehaviour may occur”. According to Lt-Col Jakub Schoř, “visiting fans are more than welcome but if the situation is getting worse and needs an intervention of anti-riot units, we are ready to take action. I recommend to follow instructions given by the police in order to avoid any useless troubles such as paying a fine or being arrested.”
“English fans are considered everywhere in the world an attractive rival, so it is likely that Czech hooligans will attempt to obtain English flags”, he added.
England currently lead Group A, three points clear of the Czech Republic, who already lost 5-0 at Wembley in March. Tough game ahead for the Czechs as England are on a 43 unbeaten run in qualifiers that stretches back to 2009. If you’re looking for a secure gambling site before the Euro qualifiers kick-off again, these five sportsbooks are a great place to start. England are 4/9 away favourites against the Czechs on Friday. The odds look a little short at first glance, given that England are facing a top-50 team on its home soil, but the Czechs haven’t beaten a top-30 opponent since the Euro 2016 qualification (3-2 vs Netherlands), and have lost nine in a row in that span.
Tough game for Hungary and no stadium ban for Slovakia
On Thursday, ranked 52nd in the world, Hungary, travel to Croatia to play the World Cup finalists who they defeated in March, while Slovakia hosts Wales in a key game in Trnava. Slovakia and Hungary are currently second and third in Group E, both teams one point adrift behind Croatia. Hungary will then host Azerbaijan on Sunday evening.
UEFA had initially ordered Hungary and Slovakia to play their next Euro 2020 qualifiers behind closed doors after both national federations were sanctioned by European soccer’s governing body for racist behaviour by their supporters during last month’s Central European derby between the two sides. Riot police were called into action in Budapest after trouble erupted in the stands during the Euro 2020 Group D qualifier, which Slovakia won 2-1.
Slovakia won its appeal against the stadium ban for their game against Wales, which also means that travelling fans will be able to go to the game. The Welsh FA had earlier released a statement making clear their “incredible disappointment” after away fans were initially denied entry to the Euro qualifier despite some 2,137 supporters having already purchased tickets to the game.
In Group G, Poland, who still top the group despite losing their first game in Slovenia last month, will travel to Latvia on Thursday before hosting North Macedonia in Warsaw on Sunday evening. Poland, whose star striker Robert Lewandowski became the fourth-highest scorer in the history of the German Bundesliga over the weekend, won both reverse fixtures in March and June.
Here’s a recap’:
Thursday 10 October 2019
20:45 – Slovakia – Wales
20:45 – Latvia – Poland
20:45 – Croatia – Hungary
Friday 11 October 2019
20:45 – Czech Republic – England
Sunday 13 October 2019
18:00 – Hungary – Azerbaijan
20:45 – Poland – North Macedonia