Prior to today’s game, the Blues have previously played four games in Czech stadiums, three against local sides and one a UEFA showpiece. We recall those games here with images from the time…
1994 - Cup Winners' Cup
Chelsea’s first trip to play in Czech Republic should have been our first game in Prague also, but it did not pan out that way. The Blues were back on the European stage after a 23-year wait and had beaten Viktoria Zizkov, one of the Czech capital’s smaller clubs, 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in our opening game in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Zizkov’s stadium with its capacity of only 3,000 and a poor pitch was inadequate for the second leg but rather than use one of the larger stadiums in Prague, the game was moved for ‘administrative purposes’ 60 miles north to Jablonec, near the Polish border.
Chelsea fans, starved of such football for so long, still made it out there for what unusually in European competition was a daytime game. Many endured a 22-hour coach trip.
Our opponents had in their ranks future Man United player Karel Poborsky and it was he who was felled for a first-half penalty. A real test of nerve, as a goal then would have left our opponents just one short of being in control of the tie. Few goalkeepers in Chelsea history have been more spring-loaded than Russian Dmitri Kharine and he not only saved the spot-kick, he was up quickly enough to keep out the rebound too.
The game was drawn 0-0, Chelsea progressed and would go on to reach the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals.
2003 - Champions League
Prague did host the historic first Champions League game proper under Roman Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea. We had negotiated a qualifying round and were now hosted by Sparta Prague for our opening group-stage encounter.
It was September 2003 and almost a decade on, Poborsky was now in the Sparta side. There was plenty of interest in the other team sheet handed in as then Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri had no shortage of star players from which to select following an incredible summer of signings.
He opted to leave previous regulars John Terry, Frank Lampard, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen on the bench for this one and start new recruits Juan Sebastian Veron, Claude Makelele, Adrian Mutu and Hernan Crespo.
The team didn’t click, so Lampard came on at half-time and Damien Duff was introduced.
Crespo shot wide twice in the second half so it was time for Hasselbaink. When he was there to flick on a Duff cross, William Gallas, something of a specialist when it came to important close-range goals, turned the ball in for an 85th-minute winner. Again Chelsea went on to reach the semi-finals of a European competition.
2013 - Europa League
We were back to play Sparta in February 2013 and this time it was our first game under the Europa League format, having dropped out of the Champions League after the group stage that season.
In the game, Chelsea dominated without making the breakthrough and the first leg of this knockout tie looked to be heading for 0-0.
But then, as in our previous away game against Sparta, the only goal of the game came in the final 10 minutes, this time Oscar the man to make the difference.
Having only come on a minute earlier, with his first touch of the ball the Brazilian collected it into his path before exchanging passes with Eden Hazard on the edge of the box, easing away from his marker and drilling his strike into the bottom corner of the net.
2013 - Super Cup
Chelsea went on to win the Europa League that season, which meant a return to the Czech capital which had been chosen to host the UEFA Super Cup match. This time it was Slavia’s stadium, where Chelsea play tonight.
Our opponents were familiar – Bayern Munich whom we had beaten in the Champions League final the year before although they were by now under the management of Pep Guardiola while Jose Mourinho was back as Blues boss.
As in the Munich final, the score was 1-1 after 90 minutes but Chelsea on this occasion had taken the lead through Fernando Torres before Franck Ribery equalised.
Hazard put us back in front with a ferocious drive (pictured top) and we were just seconds from victory when Javi Martinez scored from a cross.
The first nine penalties in the deciding shoot-out were all netted before Romelu Lukaku's was saved.
The Blues were therefore unable to repeat our successes in the other Czech venues in which we have played. The chance to put that record straight comes tonight.
- 1994 photos courtesy of Mark Sandom