Slavia Prague vs Astana, December 7, 18:00GMT/19:00CET – Eden Arena, Prague, Czech Republic
It has finally happened. Astana have lost a game on their home turf, going down to Villarreal on matchday 5, which will set up a dramatic showdown for the second spot on matchday 6 against Slavia Prague. The Czechs in the meantime have won their matchday 5 encounter against Maccabi Tel-Aviv and are now second with eight points closely followed by Astana, who have seven points.
Astana, therefore, need to win on the road to leapfrog Slavia on the final matchday and become the first club from Kazakhstan to reach the knockout stages of a European competition. Astana are, however, poor travellers and have won just two of their last 18 games away from home.
On the other hand, Astana have already collected their Kazakh championship winning their domestic competition with a one-point gap ahead of Kairat Almaty. With the championship wrapped up, Astana can focus on European glory, and head coach Stanimir Stoilov had plenty of time to get his side adjusted to the away trip to the Czech Republic.
Slavia Prague in the meantime leapfrogged Astana on matchday 5 after securing their first win on the road in over a decade. Owned by the CEFC China Energy Company Slavia have embarked on an ambitious project, which saw the club bring several high-profile signings this summer in an attempt to close the gap to the other European countries. On Thursday the project will face their first stern test.
Slavia Prague vs Astana – Player to look out for:
Danny #7 – Slavia Praha
After nine-years in Saint Petersburg Danny left Zenit this summer to join the Chinese project at Slavia Prague. A legend in Russia, the Portuguese attacking midfielder with Venezuelan roots, took some time to get adjusted to life in the Czech Republic. Injuries have slowed the 34-year-old in recent seasons, but Danny has regularly featured for Slavia recently highlighting that he can still be a key player.
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. Twumasi’s success has, however, been noted abroad and the forward has been linked with a move to VfB Stuttgart.
Slavia Prague vs Astana – Match Stats
- The 1-1 draw between the two sides on matchday 2 of the Europa League was the first-ever game between the two opponents.
- In the seven meetings between Czech and Kazakh clubs, the former hold the advantage: W3 D3 L1.
- Czech champions Slavia have kept a clean sheet in three of their four European home games this season. However, they have scored only twice in their last six European matches at Eden Arena (0-0, 0-3, 1-0, 0-0, 1-0, 0-2).
- Slavia’s 2-0 win at Maccabi on matchday 5 was the club’s first victory in 21 UEFA away fixtures (D10 L10) since a 1-0 success at Ajax in a 2007-08 UEFA Champions League qualifier.
- Astana have won just two of their last 18 European away matches (D5 L11), both this season – 1-0 at Spartaks Jūrmala in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round and 1-0 at Maccabi Tel-Aviv on UEFA Europa League matchday 4.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Slavia Prague vs Astana – 1-2
Astana vs Villarreal – Possible Lineups
Lastuvka – Sobol, Ngadeu Ngadjui, Jurgas, Frydrych – Soucek, Husbauer – Zmrhal, Danny, Stoch – Skoda
Coach: Jaroslav Silhavy
Eric – Shomko, Anicic, Postnikov, Shitov – Maevskiy, Grahovac – Murtazayev, Tomasov, Twumasi – Kabananga
Coach: Stanimir Stoilov
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds 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.