With hindsight, the organisers of the UEFA U21s tournament might have had the odd game in Plzen, just over an hour away on the train from Prague into Western Bohemia.
Plzen, home to the Pilsner Urquell brewery and the Skoda car factory, is also home to the current Czech League champions, Viktoria Plzen, whose recently rebuilt Doosan Arena was the best attended venue in the Czech Republic last season.
Plzen itself is also well worth a visit, with a fine historic centre, making it a good day trip for anyone using Prague as a base, and with the football ground, station, and even the Pilsner Urquell brewery tour just a 10 minute walk from the centre, very convenient too.
Sadly I didn’t enjoy the town or the ground as much as I’d hoped. Rain curtailed my stay in the town, and as so often happens with newer football grounds, the place was locked shut outside of match days. Even the fences were screened, giving very few glimpses of the stands inside.
Where I could see inside, all looked very neat. Once an open bowl on three sides, those three sides are now covered stands close to the pitch. They are so much closer, in fact, that a section of terracing and an old gateway to the stadium have been retained as a feature on the east side, with the Pilsner Urquell brewery poking over the back into view.
The town, and the ground, are ones I’ll have to revisit one day, although I’ll make sure it’s a day I can get in next time.