AC Sparta Praha cruised through the Czech First League season with the ease of their legendary forerunners that earned the club the nickname 'Iron Sparta' in the 1920s.
They were the last unbeaten side in Europe's top divisions until they lost their 27th match of the campaign 3-1 at FK Teplice on Saturday. It only delayed their title celebrations for a day, however, as previous champions FC Viktoria Plzeň failed to beat FK Jablonec. That meant Sparta had won the First League for the 12th time in 21 post-Czechoslovak seasons after three rare title-less years.
"It was a bit strange that the last step to the title was watching on TV," said playmaker Josef Hušbauer. "But anyway, we had waited for the title for a long time so we enjoyed the celebrations spontaneously in the dressing room."
There are just three league games remaining, but Hušbauer has motivation to keep going – on 15 goals, he is in with a chance of being the first midfielder to top the Czech scoring charts. "It is interesting, but of course the team's success is more important," the seven-times capped Czech international said. "Still, I won't complain if my team-mates keep passing the ball to me. It would be an achievement for me as a midfielder."
Hušbauer, 24, has already been voted Czech players' player of the season. "I owe this to my team-mates and their performances," he said. "Because of my goals I was more noticeable, but I was capitalising on the work of the whole team."
Before they depart for the summer and prepare to launch a UEFA Champions League return in the second qualifying round, Sparta can complete their first double in seven years when they face Plzeň in the Czech Cup final on 17 May. Captain David Lafata said: "Now we are after the cup. The double is a great motivation. We enjoyed the title celebrations, but we want to have more reasons to celebrate."
It could be forward Lafata who denies Hušbauer the golden boot, as he is one behind on 14 goals. "I have been asked about it so many times, but I repeat that we are not going to fight for the trophy," Lafata said. "The main thing is the team success that we can all enjoy."
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