Czech compatriots Pavel Vrba and Karel Jarolím may have been on opposite sides when Slovakian title-holders MŠK Žilina drew 0-0 with SK Slavia Praha last night but there was mutual satisfaction after the first leg of their second qualifying round tie.
Home side Žilina had the better of the play but were unable to find their way through a revamped Slavia lineup, who celebrated the return of hero Vladimír Šmicer. The former Liverpool FC man came on for the last 28 minutes - his first appearance for the 2006/07 Czech runners-up since leaving in 1996 - as he overcame a knee injury. But it was Slavia's defence that most impressed and the failure to score was the one downside for Žilina coach Vrba. "We had a very good match," he said. "The only thing missing was a goal. One would have been enough for me. Now Slavia are favourites, but if we score in Prague next week, we could advance to the next round."
Jarolím, indeed, is certainly not writing off Žilina after Slavia struggled with the pace of their first competitive game of 2007/08 against a team who had several domestic and European fixtures under their belts. "It was a hard start for the team," he said. "We have so many new players, some of them had never played in such an important match. I must be satisfied with a goalless draw. I knew Žilina would play attacking football. The Slovakian champion have players with experience, but we defended very well. A draw is a good result before the second leg at home. In my opinon, Žilina also have a good chance of advancing."
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