UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Czech Republic

Population 10.5 million Area 78,866km2 Capital Prague Currency Czech koruna Official Language Czech

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Fotbalová asociace České republiky (FAČR) Official Site Nv.fotbal.cz Year of formation 1901 Euro Ranking 19 World Ranking 26 National Stadium Mostly Generali Arena, Prague Well-known club sides Slavia Prague, Sparta Prague, Slovan Liberec Leading goalscorer Jan Koller (55), Milan Baroš (41) Most capped player Karel Poborský (118), Jane Koller and Pavel Nedvěd (91) European Championship finals attended as Czech Republic 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Runners-Up 1996 Playing Record in European Championship P67 W46 D9 L12 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 50/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

Being 1-0 up against reigning world champions Spain for 69 minutes in Granada was the Czech Republic’s greatest achievement during the qualification. They eventually lost, conceding a David Villa brace, but will take heart from a performance that genuinely tested the La Furia Roja.

Otherwise, the Czechs were unremarkable. An opening defeat at home to Lithuania had Michal Bilek’s men on the back foot from the off, but a 4-1 win in Kaunas – and two solid performances against the Scots – made sure of a place in the play-offs, where slightly more accomplished opposition awaited.

Strength and experience told against the plucky Montenegrins, a 2-0 first-leg victory in Prague providing the foundation for an eventual 3-0 aggregate win. The Czech Republuc had graced every European Championship final tournament since the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993 and 2012 would not break the tradition.

In terms of playing staff, big names of the past – such as Pavel Nedved, karel Poborsky and parik Berger – have never been replaced adequately, the current crop of talent simply not being good. But Tomáš Rosický, Petr Čech and Milan Baroš provide an interesting spine and Michal Kadlec is an emerging force.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

07/09/2010 – Group I – Czech Republic 0-1 Lithunia
08/10/2010 – Group I – Czech Republic 1-0 Scotland
12/10/2010 – Group I – Liechtenstein 0-2 Czech Republic
25/03/2011 – Group I – Spain 2-1 Czech Republic
29/03/2011 – Group I – Czech Republic 2-0 Liechtenstein
03/06/2011 – Group I – Scotland 2-2 Czech Republic
07/09/2011 – Group I – Czech Republic 0-2 Spain
11/10/2011 – Group I – Lithunia 1-4 Czech Republic
11/11/2011 – Play-Off – Czech Republic 2-0 Montenegro
15/11/2011 – Play-Off – Montenegro 0-1 Czech Republic

HOME AND AWAY KITS

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP A

Friday, 08/06 – Russia v Czech Republic (Wroclaw, 19:45)
Tuesday, 12/06 – Greece v Czech Republic (Wroclaw, 17:00)
Saturday, 16/06 – Czech Republic v Poland (Wroclaw, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Petr Čech (Chelsea FC), Jaroslav Drobný (Hamburger SV) , Jan Laštůvka (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk).

Defenders: Theodor Gebre Selassie (FC Slovan Liberec), Roman Hubník (Hertha BSC Berlin), Michal Kadlec (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), David Limberský (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Tomáš Sivok (Beşiktaş JK), Marek Suchý (FC Spartak Moskva).

Midfielders: Vladimír Darida (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Tomáš Hübschman (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Petr Jiráček (VfL Wolfsburg), Daniel Kolář (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Milan Petržela (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Václav Pilař (VfL Wolfsburg), Jaroslav Plašil (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), František Rajtoral (FC Viktoria Plzeň), Tomáš Rosický (Arsenal FC).

Forwards: Milan Baroš (Galatasaray AŞ), David Lafata (FK Jablonec), Tomáš Necid (PFC CSKA Moskva), Tomáš Pekhart (1. FC Nürnberg), Jan Rezek (Anorthosis Famagusta FC).

THE CAPTAIN – TOMAS ROSICKY

‘The Little Mozart’ has been out of both rhythm and sorts since the hamstring-tendon injury that ruled him out of the entire 2008-09 season. An acknowledged world-class playmaker before this setback, Tomáš Rosický retains an accomplished passing range, though his ability to get around the pitch has deteriorated. Pivotal to his country if not club, UEFA EURO 2012 is huge for Rosický

THE KEEPER – PETR CECH

Despite suffering a depressed skull fracture after an accidental collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt in October 2006, and being blamed for his country’s exit from UEFA EURO 2008, Petr Čech has made a remarkable comeback. Rugby-style headgear in place, he remains one of the continent’s most consistent goalkeepers. Will need to be at his best for this Czech side to see any success.

STAR MAN – MILAN BAROS

Despite scoring only once for his country in two years, you feel, for the Czechs to have any chance of being noticed in Poland/Ukraine, Milan Baroš has to rediscover some sort of scoring rhythm. He is more than capable at major tournaments, as he proved by top-scoring, with five goals, at UEFA EURO 2004. But his confidence has since dimmed. He passed penalty duties to Michal Kadlec after missing one in the opening defeat by Lithuania and he’s hardly been on sparkling form since. He remains a big-game player, though, and may debunk the form guide this summer.

THE MANAGER – MICHAL BILEK

A stalwart of the Czech side that travelled to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Michal Bílek showed calmness under pressure bu scoring from the spot against the United States and Austria. Enjoyed a successful period at Sparta Prague, winning the domestic double in his first season, and took over as national coach from Ivan Hasek after he returned to his role as association president. Large percentages of home support are allegedly asking for his head, but he has the unanswerable support of the players and he will need it.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Group Stages – This is not the Czech Republic of the old. As said before the star names have gone and have not been replaced at all. They eased past Montenegro in the play-offs but this is little more than a competent side which lack creativity. They find themselves in the easiest group of all, alongside Poland, Greece and Russia. The latter are the favourites to win the group and it will be a real dogfight as to who joins them in the 2nd Round. The passionate home support may just be enough for Poland to join Russia in the next round.

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