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Vladimír Šmicer has called on SK Slavia Praha to show that their record-equalling defeat by Arsenal FC was a one-off when the sides meet again in Group H on Wednesday.
'Keep our pride'
The Czech team went down 7-0 at the Arsenal Stadium on Matchday 3 and, although that mark as the joint-heaviest defeat in UEFA Champions League history was eclipsed by Liverpool FC's 8-0 dismantling of Beşiktaş JK on Tuesday, Šmicer believes Slavia have a point to prove at the Evzena Rošického Stadium. "At least we have to keep our pride a little bit," the midfielder, who missed the Arsenal trip through injury, told uefa.com. "Seven-nil was harsh on us. They played extremely well and we made some bad mistakes. I hope this game will be different. I hope we'll be more aggressive, wanting to play with more composure. We showed them too much respect, definitely, so maybe it'll help us that some of the Arsenal players are not here as our players will be more confident."
While Arsène Wenger has the luxury of being able to rest Cesc Fabregas and Aleksandr Hleb as Arsenal seek the point they need to reach the first knockout round, his Slavia counterpart Karel Jarolím has so far been deprived of the invaluable experience that Šmicer gleaned in France and England during Slavia's group stage debut. A thigh strain sustained in the second leg of the third qualifying round win against AFC Ajax means the 34-year-old has had a long frustrating wait to represent his first club in the UEFA Champions League proper. "I'm very excited because when I returned here, I never expected to play in the Champions League again," Šmicer admitted. "So it's a big surprise, a good present for me from the club, and I'm very happy."
'We'll be ready'
Šmicer crossed paths with the north London outfit on numerous occasions during a six-year career with Liverpool, most notably lifting the FA Cup at their expense in 2000/01, and he hopes the lessons learned from those meetings will pay off in Prague. "It was always difficult, mainly when we played at Highbury," the former RC Lens and FC Girondins de Bordeaux player remembered. "We won only once, and that was the team with [Thierry] Henry, [Fredrik] Ljungberg, [Robert] Pirès and [Dennis] Bergkamp. It was always difficult to play against them – a lot of running, not too much ball – and I think it will be the same again. We expect that, so we'll be ready for it."
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