Prague, Czech Republic – Slavia Prague take on European heavyweight and Group F leader Barcelona in the Champions League this evening. Having already lost two games and drawn one, Slavia Prague are bottom of Group F, dubbed the ‘group of death’, with a single point and are looking down the barrel of an early exit from the competition.
This will be Slavia Prague’s first visit to the dreaded Camp Nou in which Barcelona are unbeaten in 33 Champions League home matches – a run that started in September 2013 (W30 D3) – and the odds are certainly against them, according to the Champions League odds in this unique tracker that maps all the teams odds as they fluctuate throughout the season.
Champions League: Slavia Prague’s first visit to the Camp Nou
Having been unbeaten in 24 matches in all competitions (W19 D5) before the 2-0 home defeat by Dortmund in the Champions League on Matchday 2, Slavia have now lost three of their last seven games, including the 2-1 loss to Barcelona in Prague on Matchday 3, the teams’ first ever meeting. In a surprisingly tight game, Lionel Messi gave Barcelona a third-minute lead before Jan Bořil levelled five minutes into the second half. Peter Olayinka’s own goal seven minutes later dramatically settled a contest in which racism continued to be a problem, as stated by Forbes who reported that, “Nelson Semedo was the recipient of monkey chants from supposed fans behind one of the goals”.
The Czech champions, whose impressive record in the Czech First League this season is 13 wins and two draws, with 33 goals scored 12 clean sheets, can nevertheless hope to pounce on Barcelona’s dip in form which saw their seven-match winning run in all competitions, in which they scored 20 goals and conceded four, ended on Saturday by a 3-1 loss at Levante.
Still, Slavia won’t be happy to know that Barcelona have won their last five matches against Czech clubs, scoring 15 goals and conceding only two. In their most recent contests before Matchday 3, they got the better of Viktoria Plzeň in the 2011/12 group stage, winning 2-0 at home and 4-0 away with Messi scoring a hat-trick in the latter match.
This evening’s game might be a tough game to follow for one of Slavia Prague’s most famous sons, former captain Ferdinand Daučík, who was part of the Czechoslovakia side that reached the 1934 World Cup final, and coached Barcelona between 1950 and 1954, winning two league and cup doubles.
It is only the second time the Czech champions have made it to the Champions League group stage. Since their sole previous group appearance 12 years ago, which saw them finish third of their group behind Arsenal and Sevilla, the Czech club has lost in the preliminary rounds four times, including last year’s loss to Dynamo Kyiv. Jindřich Trpišovský’s side nevertheless qualified for the Europa League and went on to get the better of Genk and Sevilla, in dramatic fashion, in the knockout rounds before losing to eventual champions Chelsea in their first European quarter-finals in nineteen years.
Slovan Bratislava and Ferencváros struggling in Europa League
On Thursday, Slovak and Hungarian champions Slovan Bratislava and Ferencváros will also attempt to save their respective European campaigns with tricky games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and CSKA Moscow, with the two Central European sides both third of their Europa League groups.
Slovan Bratislava, the first and so far only club of the former Czechoslovakia to win a European cup competition, are away to English side Wolves, who won the reverse fixture 2-1 in Slovakia last month. The Slovak champions, who are 2 points adrift behind the English side, have not won a single game in their last eight against English opposition (D2 L6). The Slovak side will then have to face Braga and Besiktas before booking a ticket to the knockout stage.
Things are looking a little brighter for Hungarian champions Ferencváros who are taking on CSKA Moscow in Budapest having already beaten the Russian side 1-0 in the reverse fixture. While the Moscow side should be an easier opponent, having lost all three games and scored only a single goal in the competition so far, the Hungarian champions will then have to face Ludogorets and group leaders Espanyol Barcelona to fight for a spot in the knockout phase.