The Czech national soccer team welcomed five-time World Cup winners Brazil to Prague for a friendly game on Tuesday night. The Czechs were all-action in the first half and even took the lead. However, the Brazilians soon showed their superiority to run out 3:1 winners.
It’s not every day Czech fans get to see the likes of Roberto Firmino, Thiago Silva and Philippe Countinho in the flesh. But all three lined up alongside other stars for Brazil – one of the biggest names in world football – at Prague’s Eden stadium on Tuesday night.
The game followed a 5:0 drubbing against England on Friday and some Czech fans may have been dreaming of a famous scalp when the hosts took the lead after 37 minutes.
“Of course neither I nor the other guys are going to score many goals against Brazil. So it’s pleasant, but it didn’t have much effect. In the first half we surprised them with our active play. We kept up the pressing and had a few breaks. But in the second half the Brazilians responded and changed their style a bit. They showed their quality.”
They did indeed. Four minutes after the break Firmino capitalised on a badly misplaced pass from the home side’s Theodor Gebre Selassie to draw the visitors level.
It was 2:1 to Brazil when substitute Gabriel Jesus converted a David Neres low cross from close range on 83 minutes.
Then with the clock ticking down they produced a moment of the samba football that has made the South Americans famous around the globe, when a move involving two back heels concluded with Jesus putting the ball away on the rebound for a final score of 3:1.
Perhaps it was the rare quality on show that made the sold-out arena so quiet, with one reporter comparing the crowd to a theatre audience.
“It’s a question as to whether they didn’t step on the gas in the first half or whether we played so well and were so organised that we made life unpleasant for them. I think we’ve shown that we can play on an equal level with Brazil, and I think for both fans and players it was a great experience.”
For his part Czech manager Jaroslav Šilhavý said the team’s hard work had been visible, adding that he hoped his charges’ performance had put them back in fans’ good books following the debacle against England.