Melichárek caught in the Swedish league and in Hradiště. Slovácko has a decent chance to pass through Stockholm, he claims

What is AIK Stockholm’s position in Swedish football?

Together with Gothenburg and Malmö, it belongs to the three most important clubs. It boasts a sizable fan base.

So is there a significant rivalry between these teams?

Yes. Although it is not a classic derby between rivals from the same city, the matches between each other are always extremely exciting and take place in an excellent setting. I myself have experienced it myself in the Malmö goal in the past six seasons that I spent there. In the Czech Republic, I would compare them to Pilsen’s duels with Slavia or Sparta. Or to matches of Zbrojovka, where I also worked, with Prague teams. It was also always very prestigious for Brno fans.

Which players are among Stockholm’s biggest supports?

National team goalkeeper Nordfeldt catches for AIK. Three other fighters who have rich experience from the national team also belong to the supports. The 37-year-old central midfielder and team captain Larsson played in four European Championships and one World Cup. Right-back Lustig was also a participant in the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and has three EUROs to his credit. Striker Guidetti also passed through the national team.

Photo: Archive of Dušan Melichárk

Goalkeeper Dušan Melichárek during Malmö FF training.Photo: Dušan Melichárk’s archive

What is the current form of AIK Stockholm footballers, who are currently fifth in the league table?

I have noticed that their performances have been quite erratic lately. Very good results alternate with worse ones.

What can be learned from their 2-2 home draw with Swedish league newcomers Värnam at the weekend?

Probably nothing important. The AIK match did not go well, but the Stockholm team started in a combined lineup. Some supports, including striker Guidetti, who is supposed to be recovering from covid, only came to the field during the match.

Were you surprised that Stockholm eliminated Macedonian Škendija Tetovo in the 3rd preliminary round of the Conference League thanks to a better managed penalty shootout?

Not. I myself also caught several times in the preliminary rounds of European cups in the Balkan countries, so I know very well how unpleasant it is to play there.

So how do you see Slovácko’s chances of advancing?

I think they are very decent. Definitely much higher than Hradišťští had in the preliminary round of the Europa League with Turkish Fenerbahce, which has a very strong team, which was confirmed. In my opinion, a lot will depend on the result of the first game, because Stockholm is usually stronger at home.

What do you think the Swedish team will do at home on Thursday in Uherské Hradiště?

He has a well-developed defense, so I assume that he will mainly defend honestly. But he certainly doesn’t miss any opportunity for quick counterattacks, during which he doesn’t hold the ball much. This makes his playing style quite different from Slovácko.

Who does the Hradišť team have to watch out for the most?

On the striker Guidetti. If he is already healthy, he will be very dangerous. He is fast and has excellent technique.

How tough will the rematch in Stockholm be next week?

Lots of. The Friends Arena there, with a capacity for fifty thousand spectators, will most likely not be sold out, but the stadium has excellent acoustics. In addition, they can cover the second floor of the auditorium, so even if fifteen or twenty thousand people come, it visually looks like it’s full. Slovácko’s players must prepare for a stormy environment.

What result should Hradišťští play at home in order to maintain a realistic hope of promotion before the rematch?

It would be ideal to travel to Sweden with at least a one-goal lead. But even in the case of a draw, nothing will be lost in my opinion.

Slovakia, of course. I always wish Czech teams progress in European cups. Maybe I would hesitate a little if a domestic team played with Malmö, where I had a very nice and successful season during two engagements.

What do you think about the performance progress of Slovácko players in the past two years?

I’m from this region, so it’s the bomb for me. It is also great for Czech football as a whole. It is only good if there are other teams that are able to push against Pilsen, Slavia and Sparta. It improves the quality of the league.

In your opinion, what is the main reason that Slovácko took fourth place in the past two league seasons and even won the Czech Cup in overtime at the end of last season?

Undoubtedly the hard hand of the demanding coach Svědík. He has his concept, from which he is not going to deviate. He significantly lifted the team. After all, even in the recent past, few could have imagined that European cups would be played in Hradiště. Of course, the club’s management also has a lot of credit for this.

However, after the summer staff change, the team is now not in such good playing condition as, for example, at the end of the last season. Do you agree?

It is so. In the league, Hradišťští drew in Brno and Budějovice. They definitely wanted all three points from both games. However, Slovácko belongs to the clubs that sometimes need a financial injection from the sale of one of the props, so it is logical that now it will take a while before things settle down on the field. I am convinced that the boys will gradually improve their playing skills. I consider Trávnik or Mihálik to be very high-quality reinforcements. I think that with time, when he adapts even more, the striker Kozák will shoot. I remember how many years ago many were surprised when Slovácko brought in Libor Došek, and he gradually performed to such an extent that even the management of the national team considered his calling.

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