For the past eight years Slavia have played in the Sparta Krc’s Stadion Evzena Rosickeho, in the Strahov sports complex, having been forced out of their original stadium by a statue of Josef Stalin.
The Blues have a long-standing connection with the Czech side; they were the first English club to play Slavia, in 1899; a record 4,000 crowd witnessed a 3-0 win for Oxford. Thirty-seven years later Prague won a re-match 8-2. In the spirit of this tradition, Martin Keown’s side have been invited to compete in the first-ever game at the 21,000 seater Stadion Eden on May 7. Slavia will be familiar to English fans, having played both Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League and Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Cup this season. Slavia Prague are currently second in Gambrinus Liga, so are in line to qualify for next season’s Champions League second qualifying round. They have won fourteen Czech league titles, the last in 1995/96. Premiership stars of the 1990s Karel Poborsky and Patrick Berger both started their careers at Slavia.
Blues players will get to compete against Liverpool legend and Champions League winner Vladimir Smicer, amongst others. Weeks after playing at Craven Cottage, they are said to be thrilled at the opportunity to play at another top class stadium. They will be hoping to repeat their nineteenth-century triumph.