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Arsenal v Chinese Slavia Praha. Playing against the bank.

By Bulldog Drummond

 

While Arsenal have had a fairly easy ride through to the quarter finals of the Europa League it was not quite so easy for SK Slavia Praha whom we play tomorrow. 

For while we won every single game in the group stages, as you may recall if you were paying close attention, Slavia Praha had two defeats en route leaving their group stage in second place:

Europa League Group C

P W D L F A GD Pts
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 6 5 0 1 21 8 13 15
SK Slavia Praha 6 4 0 2 11 10 1 12
Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC 6 2 0 4 7 13 -6 6
OGC Nice 6 1 0 5 8 16 -8 3

Among other results in the Europa group matches they lost to Hapoel Be’er Sheva away 3-1 to a couple of goals in the last four minutes, beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0, and beat Nice 3-2 with a goal in the third minute of added time.

Things are very different however in the Czech League where they remain unbeaten.

Fortuna Liga

Pos Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Slavia Praha 25 20 5 0 55 65
2 Sparta Praha 23 16 3 4 28 51
3 Slovácko 24 14 5 5 22 47
4 Jablonec 24 14 4 6 13 46
5 Slovan Liberec 25 12 7 6 15 43

However we should not see the Czech League as a one horse race, as although Slavia Prague have won the league three times in the past four seasons they have only won the league five times this century – so it is not an equivalent situation to Portugal for example.  However their financial model (see below) could mean they are now entering a long run in which other clubs simply don’t stand a chance.

Based on performances in European competitions over the past five years, the league is ranked 15th in the Uefa league rankings for the current season.

In the previous round of the Europa Slavia Praha won in Glasgow against Rangers 0-2 and then drew at home 1-1.

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We may also note that prior to that, on 25 February they beat Leicester City away 0-2, having had a goalless draw at home.  In short they are not to be underestimated in their away games.

However a report in the Metro suggests that the club enters the game tomorrow with only one recognised central defender in the squad – David Zima being the sole survivor.   In contrast Arsenal will be without David Luiz, who has had knee surgery and the media has been talking up the fact that James Milner has possibly put paid to Kieran Tierney for quite a long while to come.  

Slavia Prague also have accusations of abuse against them, as Ondrej Kudela was reported to have racially abused Glen Kamara during Rangers’ defeat to the club.  Gareth Bale hit Kudela flush on the face with an elbow, during the international week, which is reportedly why Kudela is not playing.  Whoever thought we might one day be grateful to Bale.

And that is all quite interesting (not very interesting but still quite interesting) when one remembers that Slavia Prague was founded on 2 November 1892 by medicine students in Prague as a sport club aimed at increasing sport activity among students.

In September 2015, CEFC China Energy Company bought Slavia Prague, and since November 2018 the club has been owned by the Sinobo Group and the China International Trust Investment Corporation (CITIC), which is itself owned by the Chinese state. 

This is in fact China’s biggest state-run corporation, and is one of the largest state run owners of world wide assets which, given they are world-wide, are to be found all over the world.  So in effect we are playing a subsidiary of the People’s Republic of China.

The club is one of 44 subsidiaries of the corporation, including China CITIC Bank.

And come to think of it, having a football club owned by a bank, must certainly ease any worries about transfers.  If they run out of money they can probably just print some more.

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