Ahead of the opening game for City in this year's Champions League I caught up with journalist Jiří Hošek, the London correspondent of Czech Nationwide Public Radio, to get a Czech perspective on how things might shape up.
Bitter and Blue - How do Plzen feel about this group? Do they feel they can challenge for a top two position or would progression to the UEFA Cup (via third place) be a more realistic goal?
Jiří Hošek - I think they are down to earth and realistic about their chances. Finishing 3rd would be regarded as a success. "I will be thankful for every point we manage to get in this group," says Plzen's coach Pavel Vrba, the architect of Plzen's recent successes. Just reaching the group stage for the second time in three years is something very special for a club, which most Czech fans has always been a symbol of relegation/promotion. struggle.
B&B - How have Plzen started the season? Should City be concerned by their form?
JH - They started the season very well, Plzen leads Czech league with 6 wins and 1 draw (main rival Sparta Prague is second only on goal difference). To be honest, City exists on "another quality-planet," but the game next Tuesday in Plzen could be tricky if Viktoria scores first and gets some confidence.
B&B - Given City's struggles in the Champions League do Plzen feel they can get a win next week?
I think a draw would be regarded as an excellent result and a good start to the campaign by the Czech side.
B&B - Who are the players that City fans should be looking out for?
JH - Well, Plzen acquired its' key players from Sparta Prague, where those players seemed to be lacking perspective. Under coach Vrba in Plzen theycame into blossom. David Limbersky, left full-back, former Serie A player, is a typical example. Not as quick maybe, but very clever, the national team player supports the offensive frequently. Veteran playmaker Pavel Horvath is a funny "bloke," who physically certainly does not remind of a professional player (struggling with his weight), but his passes can be lethal. Watch out for the summer signing Tomas Horava, a young midfielder, a national team prospect.
B&B - And finally, a prediction?
Ehm, I can see 2 scenarios. Either a 1:1 or 0:2.