"Last season we fought relegation, we were under tremendous pressure and stress," said FK Teplice coach Zdeněk Ščasný whose side are flying high in second place after 12 games.
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From a "depressing" battle against relegation to second place with over a third of the campaign gone, FK Teplice are enjoying the view from the upper reaches of the Czech First League.
The side from the north-west of the Czech Republic, close to the border with the German state of Saxony, have undergone something of a renaissance since a sequence of three victories in their final five games of the 2012/13 season preserved their top-flight status.
Zdeněk Ščasný's team are the 33-goal top scorers in the division and on Saturday ended champions FC Viktoria Plzeň's unbeaten record – 1-0 – in front of a home crowd of over 16,000. After 12 outings, Teplice are only six points shy of the total of 32 they garnered in 30 matches last term.
"Last season we fought against relegation, we were under tremendous pressure and stress," said Ščasný. "It was depressing, but now we are enjoying a totally different experience being where we are."
The Plzeň result extended Teplice's perfect home run to six wins. Of the club's biggest attendance of the campaign, Ščasný said: "Our fans are eager to see our matches; there was a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium."
Defender Martin Klein added: "I've experienced such a big crowd only once before, when we played against Celtic [in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup third round], but on that occasion I was watching from the stands. This time I played and it was fabulous – I wish it could be a more frequent event."
Central to Teplice's lofty position are Aidin Mahmutović and Congolese international Franci Litsingi – first and second in the 1. Liga's scorers chart with ten and eight goals respectively – while Cape Verde defender Nivaldo, holding midfielder Admir Ljevakovič and forward Eugène Salami form the backbone of the side.
Having toppled the title holders, Teplice will attempt to curtail the division's remaining undefeated record when they travel to the Stadion Letná on Saturday to play leaders AC Sparta Praha.