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Season review: Czech Republic

Published: Tuesday 2 June 2009, 15.06CET
While FK Teplice won the Czech Cup for only the second time, there were familiar league champions as SK Slavia Praha successfully defended the title with three games to go, finishing six points clear of AC Sparta Praha.
by Ladislav Josef
from Prague
Season review: Czech Republic
Slavia are champions again ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 2 June 2009, 15.06CET

Season review: Czech Republic

While FK Teplice won the Czech Cup for only the second time, there were familiar league champions as SK Slavia Praha successfully defended the title with three games to go, finishing six points clear of AC Sparta Praha.

While FK Teplice won the Czech Cup for only the second time, there were familiar league champions as SK Slavia Praha successfully defended the title with three games to spare, finishing six points clear of AC Sparta Praha. FK Viktoria Žižkov and FC Tescoma Zlín were relegated, making way for Bohemians 1905 and newcomers to the top flight, FK Zenit Čáslav. The latter were a fourth-division side five years ago.

Champions: SK Slavia Praha
Slavia were eight points clear in autumn but after the winter break their progress to the championship was not serene. Coach Karel Jarolím struggled to fill the void left by eleven-goal Tomáš Necid's January departure to PFC CSKA Moskva, and that told as Slavia scored 37 times in the first half of the season and only 20 in the second. Nonetheless, they still were able to see off Sparta's challenge.

Cup final: FK Teplice 1-0 1. FC Slovácko
Six years after clinching their maiden cup triumph, Teplice got their hands on the trophy again after defeating a Slovácko side with designs on becoming the only winners from outside the top flight since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Aidin Mahmutovič scored the winner three minutes after the interval.

European places
SK Slavia Praha – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
AC Sparta Praha – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
FK Teplice – UEFA Europa League, play-off
FC Slovan Liberec – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
SK Sigma Olomouc – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round

Player of the Year: Tomáš Řepka (AC Sparta Praha)

The 35-year-old former ACF Fiorentina and West Ham United FC player belied his age and proved the best defender in the league. Sparta lost four out of the eight games when he was sidelined with injuries and suspension, and only two from the 22 in which he appeared. Some have called for his return to the national squad seven years after the last of his 46 caps.

One to watch: Václav Kadlec (AC Sparta Praha)
The youngest player in the league, once on trial at Liverpool FC, was only 16 when he scored vital late goals in 1-0 wins against FC Baník Ostrava and FC Bohemians Praha in May.

Top scorer: Andrej Kerič, FC Slovan Liberec (15)

Surprise package: SK Sigma Olomouc
After three bottom-half finishes, Sigma ended fourth to book a return to Europe. Zdeněk Psotka, at 35 the youngest coach in the top flight, stepped up from leading the reserves to lead a team containing largely unknown players to the upper echelons of the table in his debut campaign.

Number: 9
Nine of the sixteen sides changed their coaches during the season including second-placed Sparta. Žižkov and Zlín each made two changes, but they were unable to stave off relegation.

Quote
"Our comfortable 4-1 victory at Sparta in October was the most crucial game of the season. We showed who is the boss in the Czech top flight."
SK Slavia Praha coach Karel Jarolím.

Last updated: 02/06/09 12.53CET

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http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=cze/news/newsid=835411.html#season+review+czech+republic

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