A TEAM that was un-inspiring in qualifying despite finishing strongly will still hope to make the knockouts after being drawn into a much easier group than anyone would have expected.
However, Petr Cech’s excellent end of season form will have to be even better if the Czech’s are to go beyond anything past the group stage.
Michel Bilek took charge having previously been the assistant to his predecessor, Ivan Hasek. Bilek had been heavily criticised by the national media following a flat qualifying campaign that saw the team score only 12 goals in 8 games. However, after changing his line-up by switching to a more solid 1 striker system performances improved and the coach will hoping that the form that carried them past Montenegro in the playoffs continues in the group stage.
Superb in the second half of the season, and one of the reasons why Arsenal eventually made third place, Tomas Rosicky seems to have finally put his past injuries behind him. The team’s main playmaker, the midfielder will look to get the best out of an attack that struggled to score goals in qualifying with his creativity and eye for goal. If he keeps fit, the Gunners midfielder could be one of the best players of the group stage.
One to watch
22 year old CSKA Moscow striker Thomas Necid was lethal at youth level finishing top scorer at both the 2006 Under 17 and 2008 Under 19 UEFA championships. He’s scored 7 goals in 25 games at full international level and while he only came back from a bad injury in February he could prove useful coming from the bench to help an attack that doesn’t score a lot.
Why they could have a good tournament...
A good tournament for the Czech’s would be reaching the knockout stage and with a solid defence backed up by in-form goalkeeper Petr Cech, they could well do that. The teams they’ll face are much weaker than if the Czech’s had been drawn in any of the other groups.
Why they could have a bad tournament...
A lack of goals is a huge problem. Although ex Liverpool striker Milan Baros has an excellent international record (40 goals in 87 games) he only got one in qualifying whilst their top scorer was left back Michal Kadlec who scored 4 (3 from the penalty spot). They could also find themselves short in defence should one of their centre backs get injured.