Viktoria Plzeň suffered what is sure to be one of the biggest shocks of the season when they were stunned 3-2 by newly promoted Brno last weekend. The fourth best team in last season’s Druha Liga beat every neutral fans favourite. But on closer inspection, perhaps it wasn’t such a shock after all.
Plzeň’s meteoric rise to the upper reaches of the Czech game means they are now playing European football on a regular basis, and the demands of playing two games a week continues to plague their domestic form.
Last season, Viktoria Plzeň lost five games in the Gambrinus Liga with four of those defeats coming after a European fixture. They have now dropped points twice already this season, both games coming after a European game.
It’s clearly no coincidence that Pavel Vrba’s side form dips after their European adventures. In fact it’s a common theme across the whole of Europe. It barely seems a week goes by without Alex Ferguson bemoaning his team’s struggles after European excursions.
However, fatigue should not be an issue, not yet anyway. Logic would suggest that playing two games a week at this stage of the season can only increase fitness and give you an edge.
Vrba pointed to his side’s mentality after the defeat to Brno. “It’s not about fatigue, but the head. It’s about the fact that we were not responsible as we were in the matches before.”
It’s a worrying trend that Plzeň will need to eradicate if they want to maintain a serious title challenge. But their reaction to defeat has been immaculate, last season they bounced back from defeat with a victory on every occasion. Add to that the fact that Plzeň haven’t lost back-to-back league games since August 2009 and you can see why I am confident of Plzeň taking all three points in Ostrava this weekend.
I wouldn’t be too concerned with the International fixtures this week having an effect on performances. Friendly games are a completely different intensity and the fact players like Horváth, Hanousek, Rajtoral, Štipek and others were not in action will negate any negative effect the returning players might have.
Their opponents, Banik Ostrava, have looked far from cohesive this season with one win, one draw and a loss. They almost blew a two goal cushion against a poor České Budějovice side last time out and Plzeň will pose Banik far more problems this time around.
You can back Plzeň to beat Banik Ostrava around 1.78 (or 4/5 in old money).
Elsewhere, my attention has been drawn to the highly rated Jihlava striker, Stanlslav Tecl, who scored an intelligent header after just 6 mins against Hradec Kralove.
The 21 year-old has scored two goals in three games and I like the price of 4.00 for him to score anytime against a Slovan Liberec side that are riddled with injuries.
Those who are feeling brave can back him at 11.00 to score the first goal. Prices are with fortuna.