Slavia Prague
(Czech Republic)
UEFA CUP Round of 32 - First Leg

Thursday 14th February 2008


Top of the table Slavia Prague will be facing Spurs as they resume their league programme after the winter break.  They face a resurgent Tottenham, who are playing well in the league and have proved a potent attacking force too, but with some defensive injuries, it may leave them a little vulnerable at the back.

There has been a battering for the home side in the Champions League at the hands of a North London side already this season in the group stages, but Spurs face a two legged tie and a result in the first leg is important.  A 1-0 win last season in Prague was a good basis for the home leg and Juande Ramos will be hoping to better that this time around.

There will be goals in the game and the opposition will need to be respected.  Not knowing too much about the side, I will bow to Radek Cerny's view of his old side and take them to be ready to give Tottenham a good match.

With the side clicking going forward, I take Spurs to take a lead to bring back to the Lane for the second leg.

PREDICTION : -  Slavia Prague  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2


SLAVIA PRAGUE :  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Michael Dawson (hamstring), Gareth Bale (foot), Alan Hutton (ineligible), Kevin Boateng (hamstring), Gilberto (calf), and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); - (-); - (-); 


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Slavia Prague   1   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-2)

UEFA Cup Round of 32 - First Leg
Venue : -  Stadion Evzena Rosickeho or Strahov Staium
Thursday 14th February 2008
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   11,134
Referee :  Claudio Circhetta (Switzerland)
Weather :  -  Cold
Teams : - 
Slavia Prague :



Suchy (Volesak 83)

Jarolim (Kalivoda 59)
Jaroslav Cerny
Pudil (Ivana 46     )


Unused subs: 


Tottenham Hotspur :

12  Radek Cerny

  2  Chimbonda
39  Woodgate
  4  Zokora
  Tainio       (
24  O'Hara  59     )

15  Malbranque
  8  Jenas     
22  Huddlestone
25  Lennon

  9  Berbatov 
10  Keane (c)    (23  Bent  66)

Unused subs: 
  1  Robinson
  3  Lee
  5  Kaboul
26  King
17  Taarabt

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Slavia Prague

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Slavia Prague

Strihavka 69

Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 4
Keane 30

Cards : -  
Slavia Prague

Hubacek (foul) 30
Ivana (foul) 63
Tavares (kicking ball away) 80


Tottenham Hotspur 

Tainio (foul) 35
Jenas (foul) 64
O'Hara (foul) 85   


Match Report : -  
In typical Tottenham style, the chance to run up a big score against a side who had already lost large in Europe this season, was passed over, as a Radek Cerny slip let his former club back in and take a one goal deficit to White Hart Lane as Spurs won 2-1.

Having the benefit of an early goal through Dimitar Berbatov's well-taken shot that caught the goalkeeper on his heels, Tottenham proceeded to create chances, but fail to capitalise on most of them and thus spurn an opportunity to seal the tie in the first game.

Taking to the field with a much changed side once more, Spurs had Didier Zokora in the middle of the back four replacing Kaboul and Dawson, and Tainio coming in for the ineligible Hutton, while Berbatov replaced Bent in the starting line-up.  Tom Huddlestone moved up from defence to midfield in place of Kevin-Prince Boateng.

It all started so well, with Jemraine Jenas making a run to the edge of the D and being tackled. but the ball dropped in front of Dimi, who struck his shot early as the spinning ball was invitingly there for the effort.  The drive stayed low to the floor and did not allow the keeper Vaniak the time to move his feet and the ball went in just out of his reach to give Tottenham an early 1-0 advantage.

Whether the early goal was a good thing, I am not sure in hindsight.  Spurs decided that with the cushion of a goal that they could enjoy some showboating as Slavia were still finding their feet after two months without a competitive match during their winter break.  Having said that, they nearly got in immediately, when a weak clearing header by Tainio went wide and Pudil's shot didn't bend enough to come back towards the goal, but went a yard wide.

With so much time on the ball and so much possession, Spurs were trying all sorts of tricks and flicks, but not all came off.  Berbatov's impudent overhead lob into the box found Keane's head at the far post, but he had pushed his opponent to get to it, then Keane's flick was too far ahead of Jenas, who was going for the return pass.  At the other end of the pitch, Slavia tries to make headway, but they were poor when it came to the final pass and Cerny's effort which flew over the top by a yard was the closest they came.

Aaron Lennon's run onto Keane's through pass almost saw the lead doubled, but Vaniak got his legs to the shot and kept it out, but on the half hour, a good passing move from Spurs from back to front saw Jeans clattered as he laid off a pass to Robbie Keane on the left of the area.  Taking the ball early as the keeper rushed out, he guided it past him and into the net for 2-0 as his great goal-scoring run continues.

Teemu Tainio was doing well at right back, but got a yellow card for his first foul, which was a bit rich when Dimitar was getting a battering every time the ball was played up to him.  It was Berbatov who ignored Steed Malbranque outside him to step inside to hit a shot just over the bar and Jenas did the same when a number of players were fighting over who would take a free-kick from just outside the area.  Keane had the next one from a foul, but hit the wall, as everyone was wanting to get on the action.

Berbatov almost made the game safe just before half-time, when he struck a shot that the keeper beat out, but it went back to the Bulgarian and his first time effort was saved by a good recovery by Vaniak, who pushed the ball out once more.  The goalie made an equally good stop a minute later, as Pascal Chimbonda cut in from the left wing and let the ball go invitingly in front of Tom Huddlestone, who cracked a firmly hit shot that the keeper pushed out.

After the break, there was no reason to expect any less than the same from Spurs, but with Huddlestone being played into the area by Berbatov, his shot bounced behind off the outside of the post and Lennon's deflected effort was pushed out by Vaniak, who was having a good game, it looked like it was only a matter of time before Tottenham added to their lead.

Having been warned by Tavares' header over the top from a corner and Latka fired a cleared header just a yard wide, there was a goal for Slavia, which came out of nothing.  An up and under cross from Hubacek found Cerny uncomfortably under his crossbar and the on loan from Slavia keeper's handling let him down as he dropped the ball on the line, leaving the waiting Strihavka the simple task of tapping the ball into the goal.

From being in total control, Spurs were suddenly pegged back to 2-1 and the home side were buoyed by the goal, which they could not have dreamed of the way they had been playing.

However, it was Spurs who almost got the next goal in the game, when Berbatov got up from having been fouled again to curl a free-kick over the wall and into the top corner, if only Vaniak had not leapt to the right to tip the ball away for a corner with a fantastic save.

Ivana fell to the turf when he tried to get a ball that was too far ahead of him, but Zokora did not touch him and the ref waved play on and Spurs took the ball forward to provide Lennon with a shooting opportunity, which he struck straight at the goalie.  Then Malbranque took a quick shot that went just wide with the keeper stranded, before Steed turned provider to Huddlestone, who hit Vaniak with his shot.

When the Slavia scorer Strihavka got in on the right side of the box, he managed to squeeze a shot away, but it went across the goal and past the far post, with Cerny having it covered if it had hit the target.  Five minutes from the end, Tottenham were grateful when Brabec rose highest to a corner and smacked his header against the bar and it bounced out.  Spurs should not have been in the situation where they were worried about Slavia getting a second, but they were left almost hanging on in the final minutes of normal time.  In fact, Ivana and Volesak wasted clear shooting opportunities by hitting shots without enough power to sufficiently trouble Cerny.

After the previous twenty minutes, it was surprising that Tottenham looked the most likely to add to the score-line when Lennon used his pace to break away and Berbatov had a good chance to test the keeper again, but his shot went into the side-netting.

In summary, this was a game that Tottenham should have used to see them through to a quarter final against PSV or Helsinborgs, but the lack of clinical finishing once ahead left them glad for the two away goals and the lead as they go back for the next leg in a week's time.

I should imagine that Juande Ramos will not be too happy at the way Spurs went about the game after going 1-0 up.  With Slavia there for the taking, Tottenham tried to turn in a show of entertainment rather than one which saw them through without any hiccups.  It leaves the second leg delicately balanced, although with home advantage and not having another match before the second leg, Spurs should progress, but Slavia should not be under-rated, nor should Spurs forget that a slip will soon change the face of a game.





Reaction : -



When Radek Cerny dropped the ball at the feet of Strihavka to score, he must have seen his chance to play in the Carling Cup Final slip through his fingers too.

The team should have been far enough ahead not to worry about letting a goal in, but the lack of goals from the chances created, despite Vaniak having a good game, leaves the second leg delicately poised.

The early goal from Berbatov, showing his predatory instincts, set Spurs up and the second on the half hour from captain Robbie Keane should have been the prelude to a comfortable score-line.

But in the second period, the side eased off and Slavia came back into it.  There were a few chances with Cerny brought into action and the crossbar came to the rescue when Brabec headed against the woodwork, but the Spurs side will need to make a better fist of it than Cerny did in the second leg to go through.






Other scores this round :
Glasgow Rangers (SCO) 0 Panathanaikos (GRE) 0 Wednesday
Brann Bergen (NOR) 0 Everton 2 Wednesday
AEK Athens (GRE) 1 Getafe (SPA) 1 Wednesday
Anderlecht (BEL) 2 Bordeaux (FRA) 1 Wednesday
Galatasaray (TUR) 0 Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 0 Wednesday
Marseille (FRA) 3 Spartak Moscow (RUS) 0 Wednesday
PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 2 Helsinborgs (NOR) 0 Wednesday
Sporting Lisbon (POR) 2 Basle (SWI) 0 Wednesday
Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS) 1 Villareal (SPA) 0 Wednesday
Werder Bremen (GER) 3 SC Braga (POR) 0 Wednesday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Atletico Madrid (SPA) 0 Thursday
Aberdeen (SCO) 2 Bayern Munich (GER) 2 Thursday
Benfica (POR) 1 Nuremburg (GER) 0 Thursday
FC Zurich (SWI) 1 Hamburg (GER) 3 Thursday
Rosenberg (NOR) 0 Fiorentina (ITA) 1 Thursday


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