Sparta Prague
The AXA Arena

Ground No. 138
Visited - Thursday 25th October 2007
Result - Sparta Prague 1-2 FC Zurich
Competition - UEFA Cup
Attendance - 6007

Having booked a week off from work, I was determined not to spend it sitting around at home, bored until going back not feeling like I’d been away, so I was trying to decide where to go, narrowing the choices down to Prague or Vienna when I noticed the UEFA Cup draw. With there being no games on in the Austrian capital, the decision was quickly made when I noticed that Sparta Prague were at home to FC Zurich, so flights booked, hotel found, off I set for the Czech Republic, and my first European game.

I’d decided to spend four days in the city, which had proved a good choice with plenty of sights to see and cheap beer to drink, so come the Thursday I was looking forward to the game and adding my first foreign ground to the list (not counting games in Ireland or Scotland of course!). 

Having visited the stadium the previous day to get tickets and have a look round (unable to get inside), it seemed to favour well compared to the other grounds I’d visited during my stay (Slavia Prague’s Evzena Rosickeho Stadion, and FC Viktoria Zizkov’s Viktoria Stadion). From the outside, the Main Stand looked impressive with its glass frontage, and the other sides, whilst not containing the cladding you expect at an English ground, they looked fairly modern, if a little plastered with adverts in the case of the South(?) Stand, which fronted onto the main road running next to the ground.

I’d bought tickets for the South Stand, and so was looking forward to the match when I got there. Facilities were basic, with a mostly open concourse and only portaloos for toilets, but inside the seats were spacious, with good views afforded from the upper tier, which seemed very close to the pitch.

All four stands were two tiered, with the North, East and South sides being similar in design, and connected to each other (except for the North-East lower corner where there was just a wall with a scoreboard and no seats), the only side different was the Main Stand, which had two tiers separated by executive boxes, which looked like they might have been added to the rear of the lower tier at a later date, vaguely reminiscent of those at St Andrews, Birmingham. The only other notable feature was a fence around the perimeter of the pitch, although sitting in the upper tier that didn’t effect myself.

The game kicked off, and Sparta certainly seemed eager to take advantage of being at home, and dominated much of the early proceedings with the Swiss visitors barely getting up to the end of the field where I was sitting, so it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 24th minute through Miroslav Slepicka who fired home from close range. Despite their possession, it didn’t seem like Sparta could take advantage, and much to the delight of the travelling Zurich fans they pulled level just before half time when Oumar Konde scored to make it 1-1 at the break.

In the second half it was much the same, with Sparta looking most likely to score but never really putting an end product to their chances. They were punished for it when Zurich took the lead in the 62nd minute through Alexandre Alphonse, who had an easy tap-in from close range. Despite having a man sent off 10 minutes from the end, Zurich managed to hold onto the lead and it eventually finished 2-1 to the visitors.

Throughout the game, the atmosphere had been a little flat, not helped by the disappointing 6007 crowd which made the ground seem quite empty, but the Zurich fans had travelled fairly well, having about 500 or so supporters tucked away in the far corner, and they made plenty of noise throughout.

After the final whistle, it was easy getting away being at the right end of the ground to make my way back to the tram stop and back to the hotel with no problems.

Overall, it was a decent ground to visit, and good to finally get my first foreign match ticked off. Prague is a great city to visit, and of the three football venues I saw during my stay, this certainly seemed the best, so worth getting back to one of the days, if just for the food, which consisted of half a roast chicken with bread cooked in front of you for just £1! (beats a half cold burger for two or three times that amount at most English grounds…)

Welcome to Sparta Prague

Outside the Ground

Rear of the Main Stand

 Rear of the South Stand

Rear of the East Stand

The Club Shop

Rear of the North Stand

The South Stand

The East Stand

The North Stand

The FC Zurich Fans

The Main Stand

The AXA Arena Panoramic


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