In Sports News: Viktoria Plzeň are an unprecedented 12 points clear in the Czech league with only 12 games played; stuttering Sparta Prague need to get to grips with their problems, says defender Brabec after a home defeat to Teplice; Baroš scores two before exiting the pitch in pain on his return for Galatasaray; and Czech goaltenders Vokoun and Neuwirth enjoy positive starts to the NHL season.
Football’s recent international break did nothing to upset the rhythm of Czech league leaders Viktoria Plzeň, who on Sunday resumed their phenomenal winning streak with a 4:1 home victory over bottom-of-the-table Brno. Though there are of course a full 18 more rounds to go this season, things are looking exceedingly promising for Plzeň. After 11 wins on the trot, they are now 12 points ahead of the pack. No team has ever had such a lead at this stage of the season since the Czech league was created. And no team that has had even a 3-point lead after 12 rounds has ever failed to take the title. What’s more, Viktoria Plzeň’s Jan Rezek has already notched up nine goals in a league where the top scorer usually bags only around 15 strikes. Rezek had this to say after the Brno game, in which he found the net twice.
“After we scored two goals we were maybe satisfied with that and took our foot off the gas a bit. Obviously you can’t go flat out for 90 minutes. We scored an own-goal just before half-time, but then we showed our strength and decided the game in the second half. I think Brno didn’t have anything in the second half.”
Second but a long way behind Viktoria Plzeň are current champions Sparta Prague. They saw their hopes of retaining the title dealt another blow on Saturday, when they were beaten 2:0 in the capital by Teplice. Centre back Erich Brabec had a nightmare game, deflecting in the visitors’ first goal, and failing to defend against the second. Brabec said Sparta had no illusions about the situation they find themselves in.
“We have to look at ourselves. We’ve got some problems at the moment, and we have to grapple with them. We’re not blind. We can see the league table and how the situation is developing, and the kind of run that Plzeň are on.”
Sparta host Lausanne in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Further afield, Czech international Milan Baroš made a speedier than expected return for Galatasaray on Sunday, lining up just three weeks after sustaining a knee injury. And it was a successful comeback, to a point. Baroš found the net twice against Ankaragucu, making it five goals in two games for the striker. However, he failed to complete the match after complaining of pain, and Gala were beaten 4:2.
It has been a good NHL season so far for Czech goaltenders, including the star of the Czech World Championship winning squad, Tomáš Vokoun. The 34-year-old may have recorded 40 shutouts last season, but he often takes a while to reach top form. Not this season, though. Vokoun has just notched up two clean sheets in a row for Florida, and leads the goaltenders’ table with an average of just 1.26 goals conceded per game. Elsewhere, Michal Neuvirth is making something of a name for himself at Washington. The 22-year-old was brought in as cover for the experienced Semjon Varlamov, but found himself immediately thrust into the action when the Russian was injured. Washington then went on a winning streak and Neuvirth has remained in the team, despite the fact Varmalov is now available once again.
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