Twice a year, the longest-running and most emotionally-charged derby in Czech football kicks off in the picturesque surroundings of Prague. When Slavia and Sparta take the field this coming Saturday, it is not just the crowd at the stadium who will be split into opposing blocs. For ninety minutes, the entire Czech capital will become a city divided along partisan lines. takes a closer look at the history of the long-running rivalry between Prague's oldest and most successful clubs.

The clubs have been bitter rivals for more than 116 years, with the twice-yearly derby providing the focus for a passionate show of loyalty on either side. Slavia, traditionally appealing to the more comfortably-off and the intellectual set, were founded in 1892.

On the opposing side, Sparta were founded a year later, with their support drawn firmly from the city's working class districts. The twelve-time domestic champions boast a longer and more impressive record of success than rivals Slavia, who have an unenviable reputation as the eternal bridesmaids of the Czech game.

However, Slavia have slowly but surely emerged from Sparta's long shadow of late, leaving their cross-city foes trailing in their wake in the last two seasons as they claimed back-to-back league triumphs.

Facts and figures
This Saturday's meeting is the 270th competitive clash between the clubs. The most recent Slavia versus Sparta showdown took place in April this year, the first derby staged at the New Eden stadium, renamed the Synot Tip Arena on 1 April 2009. The 1-1 draw marked a crucial step in Slavia's march to a second league title on the trot.

In fact, Slavia last finished on the losing side more than two years ago, an away defeat by the only goal of the game. They were last beaten on home turf back on 14 March 2004, Sparta chalking up a 2-1 victory.

The sides have more or less shared the honours in their last dozen meetings. Slavia have won three and Sparta four, with five draws in the last six seasons.

The leading scorer in the Prague derby actually hails from Austria. Josef Pepi Bican struck 35 goals in 37 derby appearances in the 1930s and 40s.

Words and wisdom
"Throughout the season, the focus is on the derby. The papers are full of nothing else for weeks beforehand. The players gear themselves up in a special way for the match, and the atmosphere is genuinely impressive." Horst Siegl (Sparta Prague, 1987-2000)

"In the weeks leading up to the game, you can feel the tension rising in both camps. But Sparta's determination to win is much greater than Slavia's." Pavel Horvarth (Sparta Prague, 1991-93 and 2006; Slavia Prague 1997-2000)

The present
With nine games played, FK Jablonec are the surprise Gambrinus Liga leaders in the Czech Republic, with cup holders FK Teplice a point behind in second, and the Prague-based big two in third and fourth.

Champions Slavia have amassed 16 points so far. They have lost just once, a 2-0 away defeat to Brno on 2 August. Sparta remain undefeated, but have won only three of their nine games to date, with no fewer than six draws.