A Prague Spring?

Slavia Prague 0 City 0

Report by Kate Thompson

City went into this game knowing that it would be a sterner test than they had faced in the group stage and so it proved.  The Leicester Mercury told us that Slavia Prague had not lost at home since November 2019 and that Brendan Rodgers had never got beyond the 32-team stage.  There was just one change from the Liverpool game, with Luke Thomas replacing Ricardo Pereira, in a precautionary measure to protect the latter.

About 600 Slavia fans were in the stadium and the seats in one stand had been arranged to spell out ‘Slavia Prague fox hunting’.  The goalmouth at one end was bare of grass and it transpired that the pitch was poor, according to Schmeichel in his post-match interview.  The Slavia manager, in his interview, said that it was a lot better than many others in the Czech league.

City started the brighter and could have been ahead in the first minute, when Barnes slipped a delightful ball across to Albrighton, who unfortunately put his shot wide of the left-hand post.  Shortly after a Slavia player was completely unmarked in the box but also put his shot wide when in a very good position.  In the 3rd minute Maddison’s shot soared over the crossbar but at this point City were pressing well and really should have gone ahead.  Slavia frequently looked dangerous but thankfully appeared to have left their shooting boots at home.

City continued to be foiled by good blocks, such as one from Barnes in the 16th minute, and the same player put his shot wide two minutes later.  The Slavia players spent a lot of time diving to the ground when they had hardly been touched, trying to get free kicks and – on one occasion – clearly trying to get Albrighton booked, as a second yellow would have meant him missing the second leg. 

Unfortunately, the officials seemed to be fooled by a lot of the play-acting, which has always been an irritant to English fans.  Yet another foul, on Albrighton, led to the only yellow card for a Salvia player – Boril in the 26th minute.

City continued to win free kicks and corners but Maddison’s deliveries were poor and none of them threatened the Slavia goal.  The first substitution for Slavia, Hromada for Holes, came as early as the 29th minute.  In the 33rd minute a possible penalty for City for handball was looked at by VAR but was deemed to have been outside the box and yet again the free kick came to nothing.

Slavia came out for the second half with much more resolve and City could have been made to pay for their inability to score.  For about 20 minutes they resembled headless chickens and even the normally solid Ndidi made mistakes.  The City players struggled to keep the ball, very reminiscent of the game against Liverpool.

In the 63rd minute Iheanacho came on for Vardy, who had not had many opportunities to make his mark on the game, and Under for Albrighton.  Poor Iheanacho was booked only a minute later for an apparent elbow in the face of a Slavia player, so will miss the second leg.  Ndidi and Tielmans were also booked. 

Slavia brought on two substitutes in the 72nd minute, Masopust for Kuchta and Trarore for Stanciu.  City’s final substitute was Choudhury for Maddison in the 75th minute and Slavia brought Lingr on for Provod in the 90th minute.

A goalless draw away to a team top of their league might be considered a good result but it could have been so much better.  It was particularly galling to hear some of the results of other English teams although Arsenal only got a score draw away to Benfica. 

Unfortunately, too many players had a poor game and they reverted to one of my pet dislikes, passing the ball sideways, especially between Evans and Soyuncu countless times.  Nobody played really well although Thomas was solid and probably the best on the night.  The offensive players, Vardy, Barnes, Maddison, Albrighton and Tielemans, fell short of their normal high standards and need to up their game for the return leg.

One final point.  It is very rare for Rodgers to criticise the officials, but he did so last night in his post-match interview.  Let’s hope we don’t get the same ones next week!

Leicester City: 1 Kasper Schmeichel, 18 Daniel Amartey, 6 Jonny Evans, 4 Çaglar Söyüncü, 33 Luke Thomas, 8 Youri Tielemans, 25 Wilfred Ndidi, 11 Marc Albrighton, 10 James Maddison, 15 Harvey Barnes, 9 Jamie Vardy

Slavia Prague:  1 Ondrej Kolar, 5 Alexander Bah, 15 Ondrej Kudela, 6 David Zima, 18 Jan Boril, 3 Tomás Holes, 12 Abdallah Dipo Sima, 17 Lukáš Provod, 7 Nicolae Claudiu Stanciu, 9 Peter Olayinka, 16 Jan Kuchta.

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation