Czech Synot Liga 2016/17 Season Preview
Football is back in Czech Republic - Synot League 2016 / 2017 kicks off this weekend!
Footballing rivalries between Sparta and Slavia Praha resume this weekend when the Synot Liga kicks off the 2016/17 season.
Sparta have been streets ahead of Slavia in recent seasons as the red and white residents at Prague 10 have been more accustomed to relegation battles and boardroom squabbles than title challenges.
But a new season brings new hope and Slavia, fuelled by investment by the Chinese juggernaut CEFC group, can already claim a victory in the transfer window.
Milan Skoda, who scored 14 league goals in 25 matches last term, looks set for another season at the club despite a very much public will he/won't he leave saga. While they have signed the pacey Dutch born Gino Van Kessel from Slovak side Trencin for an eye watering fee in the region of 30-35m Czech crowns.
It represents a massive statement of intent from Slavia who, on paper at least, look like contenders this season. But looks can be deceiving, especially if the clubs recent performance against Levadia Tallinn is used as a yard stick.
Slavia were expected to swat aside the Estonian side with little fuss but they scraped through on away goals 3-3 after losing the first leg 3-1.
New signing Van Kessel made his debut in the second leg of that tie and looked eager to impress the Prague natives but he played poorly and had a desperate game. Somehow, though, he ended up with a goal and an assist - which must bode well for Slavia as if their new signing hits top gear it could be raining goals in Prague 10 this season.
Sparta Prague, meanwhile, have seen plenty of action in the transfer window but it's all been through the exit door.
Ladislav Krejčí has followed that well-trodden path Czech player’s make to Italy as he signed for Bologna in deal worth over 100m Czech crowns. While 20 year old Patrik Schick, who impressed massively on loan at Bohemka last season when scoring eight goals in in 27 matches, joined Krejčí on the plane to Italy after signing for Sampdoria for a whopping 100m Czech crowns.
It was a deal that Sparta couldn’t refuse and they will be hoping to boost their bank balance further with qualification to the UEFA Champions League - but this week's 1-1 home draw with Steaua Bucharest will have blunted their chances. Now the Spartans will need a repeat of last season's away heroics (beating Lazio and Krasnodar) when travelling to Romania for the return leg.
Domestic ambitions remain the same however. The Sparta management will be desperate to win another league title and prevent Viktoria Plzeň from winning three titles in a row.
Top flight football in the Czech capital isn't limited to just Sparta and Slavia though. Bohemians 1905 are preparing for another season in the Synot Liga after a commendable 9th place finish last season.
Bohemka rely on their form at fortress Ďolíček where they regular shock the big teams in the division, victories over Sparta and Slavia are not uncommon. They only lost three matches in front of their own fans last season and a repeat of this form will guarantee another season dining at the top table of Czech football.
A visit to the Ďolíček in Vršovice is well worth it for those fans who have yet to experience it. The stadium holds a sense of romance, history and nostalgia. Meanwhile, the capacity of just 5000 fans ensures that it's packed out most match days giving it one of the best atmospheres in the country.
Finally, Dukla Prague make up the final team from the capital in the Synot Liga and they'll be hoping to improve on their fortunes last after a change in management during the summer. Jaroslav Šilhavý, who won the Czech league five years ago with Liberec, has taken over the reins from Luboš Kozel and pre-season results have been encouraging for Dukla.
They beat recently relegated Premier League side Norwich City 3-1 in a friendly match last week and the change in management could be just what Dukla need to freshen up their squad and kick on from the solid platform left by Kozel.
The Synot Liga season kicks off this weekend with home matches for Dukla, Sparta and Bohemians 1905 so local football fans have plenty of action to choose from this weekend! In fact, you could watch all three matches as they are spread over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The full fixture list for this weekend’s Synot Liga are below and you can find ticketing information for all Prague clubs by visiting their respective websites.
Fri 29 July – Dukla Praha v Teplice
Sat 30 July - Vysočina Jihlava v Viktoria Plzeň
Sat 30 July – Jablonec v Karviná
Sat 30 July - Zlín v Příbram
Sat 30 July - Sparta Praha v Slovácko
Sun 31 July - Mladá Boleslav v Slovan Liberec
Sun 31 July – Bohemians 1905 v Hradec Králové
Sun 31 July – Brno v Slavia Praha
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