Astana vs Slavia Praha – Thursday, September 28, 16:00 BT/17:00 CET at Astana Arena, Astana.
For the first time, Slavia Praha will travel to Kazakhstan to face FC Astana. For Astana, the Astana Arena in the Kazakh capital has been a fortress. The Kazakh champions has never been defeated when playing in their home stadium during a European group stage match.
In their first ever Champions League group stage season two years ago Astana hosted the likes of Benfica, Atlético Madrid and Galatasaray at the Astana Arena and remained unbeaten in all three matches collecting three points. Last season the Europa League Astana managed draws against Olympiakos and Young Boys Bern before defeating APOEL. This season Legia Warsaw and Celtic were beaten in Kazakhstan’s capital.
Astana, in fact, rely heavily on their home record. The long track from Kazakhstan to Europe means that FC Astana have a heavy disadvantage on the road. This is reflected when looking at the club’s results on the road. Last year they lost all three away games. This season they lost 3-1 to Villarreal on matchday 1 of the UEFA Europa League and the club, which is owned by the government, has ambitions to reach the next stage of the competition this season. Hence anything but a victory on matchday 2 could threaten their dreams.
Slavia Praha in the meantime won their matchday 1 game against Maccabi Tel-Aviv and are now in a good position in the group. Owned by the CEFC China Energy corporation, Slavia Praha are one of the most ambitious projects in Czech football and the Chinese owners are hoping that the club can soon turn the financial investments into European success. At the same time, the new purchases that includes the likes of former Zenit Saint Petersburg star Danny have been players past their prime, and it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to make an impact both at home and abroad truly.
Astana vs Slavia Praha – Player to look out for:
Patrick Twumasi #23 – Astana
Together with Junior Kabananga Patrick Twumasi is Astana’s most dangerous forward. Ranked second behind Kabananga on Astana’s scoring chart with 11 goals and six assists in 26 Kazak Premier League games Twumasi has been a prolific player this year. Playing off the left of Kabananga Twumasi often interchanges positions with his forward partner giving Astana a dangerous one-two punch up front.
Milan Skoda #21 – Slavia Praha
Slavia Praha have spent plenty of money in the off-season bringing in former stars Halil Altintop, Miroslav Stoch and Tomas Necid to strengthen their attack. Any of those players would have been a threat to Milan Skoda, who has been the starting striker down the years for Slavia, but instead, Skoda has fought off the newly arrived players and remains the number one striker for the Prague based club.
Astana vs Slavia Praha – Match Stats
- The two teams have never met before.
- Astana are unbeaten in 15 European home games (W8 D7).
- Slavia have not won in 18 European away fixtures (D8 L10) since a 1-0 success at Ajax Amsterdam in UEFA Champions League qualifying on August 15, 2007.
- Beaten by Celtic in the UEFA Champions League playoffs, Astana are playing their third consecutive UEFA group stage season—they were in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League in 2014-15 and then in the Europa League group stage last season.
- Slavia in the meantime are competing in their fourth UEFA group stage season. They reached the group stage of the UEFA Cup in 2005-06, then in 2008-09 and finally in 2009-10.
- The journey from Prague to Astana is 3,900km.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Astana vs Slavia 3-0
Astana vs Slavia Praha – Possible Lineups
Eric – Shomko, Logvinenko, Postnikov, Shitov – Grahovac, Maevskiy, Kleinheisler – Tomasov, Twumasi, Kabananga
Manager: Stanimir Stoilov
Lastuvka – Sobol, Frydrych, Jugas, Boril – Soucek – Stoch, Husbauer, Rotan, van Buren – Skoda
Manager: Jaroslav Silhavy
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.