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Season review: Czech Republic

Published: Wednesday 2 June 2010, 14.08CET
AC Sparta Praha finished the season undefeated but were pushed to the final day before winning the title, leaving coach Jozef Chovanec to say: "It feels better than winning by a 15-point margin."
by Ladislav Josef
from Prague
Season review: Czech Republic
Sparta celebrate their title triumph ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 2 June 2010, 14.08CET

Season review: Czech Republic

AC Sparta Praha finished the season undefeated but were pushed to the final day before winning the title, leaving coach Jozef Chovanec to say: "It feels better than winning by a 15-point margin."

The Czech Republic's most successful club AC Sparta Praha held their nerve in a dramatic climax to the campaign to win their first title in three years and break rivals SK Slavia Praha's two-year grip on the crown.

Champions: AC Sparta Praha
Sparta clinched their 35th league title, and their 11th since the independent Czech league was founded in 1993/94, on the final day to become the first side to complete a season undefeated, ending with a record of 16 wins and 14 draws from their 30 games. Captain Tomáš Řepka headed the only goal in the final game against FK Teplice to ensure Sparta triumphed in the most compelling title race for years, FK Jablonec 97 finishing one and FC Baník Ostrava two points behind. Slavia Praha came seventh after winning the league in each of the previous two seasons.

Cup final: FC Viktoria Plzeň 2-1 FK Jablonec 97
The 1970/71 Czech Cup winners secured only the second honour in their history in an open final in Prague. Milan Petržela put Plzeň ahead after two minutes against the league runners-up, who drew level through David Lafata on the hour. David Bystroň, however, had the final say for Plzeň in the 68th minute.

European places*
AC Sparta Praha – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FK Jablonec 97 – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Viktoria Plzeň – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Baník Ostrava – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Tomáš Řepka (AC Sparta Praha)
The Sparta captain was a true leader and an example to his considerably younger team-mates throughout their title-winning campaign. The 36-year-old central defender, who returned home in 2006 after eight seasons with ACF Fiorentina and West Ham United FC, crowned his best and most disciplined campaign with the decisive goal in the final game, his first of the season. The Football Association of Czech Republic's official gong for the calendar year is handed out to the best Czech player in March, with Chelsea FC's Petr Čech having been honoured earlier this year. The journalists' choice for the 2009/10 season will be revealed in August.

One to watch: Matěj Vydra (FC Baník Ostrava)
The 18-year-old forward took the step up to the top flight during the winter break, when he joined Baník from second division FC Vysočina Jihlava, and immediately became a fans' favourite at the Bazaly Stadium by scoring four goals in his first seven games for the club. He could not add to that tally before the end of the season, but had already done enough to show just how gifted he is.

Surprise package: FC Viktoria Plzeň
Plzeň are more accustomed to mid-table than pushing for honours and surprised everyone by winning the cup and finishing fifth in the league, their best placing since 1994. Their 46-year-old coach Pavel Vrba, who led MŠK Žilina to the Slovakian title in 2007, blended the experience of the likes of playmaker Pavel Horváth with little known newcomers such as Marek Bakoš, who was the club's top scorer with seven goals in his first league season.

Leading scorer: Michal Ordoš, SK Sigma Olomouc (12)

Relegated: SK Kladno, Bohemians Praha

Promoted: FC Hradec Králové, FK Ústí nad Labem

Number: 33
Record number of league games Sparta have gone undefeated since last losing to FC Tescoma Zlín three rounds before the end of the 2008/09 season.

Quote
"This title is worth more than the others as hardly anyone believed in us. We had to fight for it, and it feels better than winning by a 15-point margin."
Sparta coach Jozef Chovanec

Last updated: 14/06/10 16.14CET

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