Opinion – Sandro Macedo: Without Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League, but with pilsen in the glass


Of the 32 teams that started the Champions League, two are already mathematically eliminated after four of the six games in the first phase: Rangers, from Scotland, and Viktoria Plzen, from the Czech Republic.

By a pleasant coincidence, this humble scribe has spent the last ten days in the Czech Republic, where he has not seen any matches played on Brazilian soil, but has watched two games of the intrepid Viktoria Plzen.

In the Champions League dispute system, rounds 3 and 4 have the same duel, with the field control reversed. So, I saw Viktoria Plzen vs Bayern Munich twice.

If it were a beer duel, it would be one of the most electrifying of the competition, worthy of a final. On one side, Munich, during the month of Oktoberfest; on the other, Plzen, where the pilsen style was born, turning 180 this October. Probably Luiz Carlos Júnior would say “there will be emotion until the end”.

Unfortunately—for the Czechs—the duel was football, not beer. Adding the two games, the aggregate result was 9-2. It was 9-0, but the Germans are generous, you know, and they took their foot in the second half of the second game. They took off both feet.

In the first match, I was in Prague, the Czech capital, and I watched the duel in a pub in the touristy Old Town, close to the famous Charles Bridge.

I thought the bar would be packed with passionate Czech fans, but no. I soon realized that Prague has its own teams and that they have no reason to admire Plzen’s team. I remembered Galvão Bueno, who in other times ruled that any national team “is Brazil in Libertadores”. There shouldn’t be any Galvão there. So Plzen is not the Czech Republic in the Champions League.

Even so, I could hear a couple of excited screams at the beginning of the match, shown on two televisions, without sound (the ambient sound was from a playlist, which played everything). Apparently, the fans wanted to see the team just play a good role, nobody expected a victory against the mighty Bayern.

Even at the beginning of the match, there were already people asking for another mug of beer. I was torn between watching the game and watching what the Czechs were saying at the time of the toast (“na zdraví”). In that uncertainty, I missed the first goal, at seven minutes, seen only in the “replay”.

After 20 minutes, it was 3-0 and at half-time almost no one was watching the TV anymore. I even swapped my regular lager for a dark lager, to be more in tune with the mood of the Plzen fans, if there were any there — and the dark lager is great too.

Two days before the second game, I was in Plzen, and I understood better why nobody was caring too much about the result. The small stadium has a capacity for just over 11,000 people, and from there you can see the chimney and water tank of Pilsner Urquell, the most famous pilsen in the world and creator of the style.

Have more. A small bridge connects the stadium to the original brewery factory, which occupies an area apparently larger than the football arena. With a brewery like this right next door, who cares about defeat on the field? In fact, the fans wildly celebrated the two goals scored against Bayern – the only ones conceded by the Germans during the competition.

The concern expressed by the brewery group was not with the duel, but only with serving the thirsty fans who would arrive from Munich — a few hours away, by car or train. In the group that also has Barcelona and Inter Milan, the Czechs may have been out before their time, but they are still the masters of pilsen.

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