Analysis

EURO 2020: Czech Republic – Can they brush off the woes of 2016?

Czech-Republic-Euro-2020-Preview

It’s nothing new for the Czech Republic to play in the European Championships. While the Czechs have avoided recent World Cups, they have qualified for every single Euro in their 28-year history as an independent country, and have advanced to the knockout round more times than they have been ousted in the groups.

For the seventh consecutive time, the Czech Republic has qualified for the continental competition, advanced to the top stage of the Nations League, and begun their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against top-ranked FIFA team Belgium.

They’ll have their job cut out for them if they want to reach the heights they achieved in 1996 and 2004; they enter Euro 2020 as one of the lowest-ranked nations, and with England, Scotland, and Croatia in their group, they’ll have their work cut out for them if they want to advance to the last 16.

THE FULL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Tomáš Vaclík (Sevilla), Jiří Pavlenka (Werder Bremen), Aleš Mandous (Sigma Olomouc)

Defenders: Pavel Kadeřábek (1899 Hoffenheim), Ondřej Čelůstka (Sparta Prague), Tomáš Kalas, (Bristol City), Jan Bořil (Slavia Prague), Jakub Brabec (Viktoria Plzeň), Vladimír Coufal (West Ham United), Tomáš Holeš (Slavia Prague), Aleš Matějů (Brescia), David Zima (Slavia Prague)

Midfielders: Vladimír Darida (Hertha BSC), Jakub Jankto (Sampdoria), Tomáš Souček (West Ham United), Lukáš Masopust (Slavia Prague), Antonín Barák (Hellas Verona), Alex Král (Spartak Moscow), Petr Ševčík (Slavia Prague), Adam Hložek, (Sparta Prague), Jakub Pešek (Slovan Liberec).

Forwards: Matěj Vydra (Burnley), Michael Krmenčík (PAOK), Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen), Tomáš Pekhart (Legia Warsaw).

GROUP STAGE FIXTURES

  • Scotland vs Czech Republic, June 14 (14:00, Glasgow)
  • Croatia vs Czech Republic, June 18 (17:00, Glasgow)
  • Czech Republic vs England, June 22 (20:00, Wembley)

STAR PLAYER

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Tomáš Souček

Look no further than Soucek for the Czech Republic’s main threat, having been shortlisted for Premier League player of the season. Not only has Soucek shown his ability to give a good defensive presence at the back for West Ham at corners and free-kicks, but he has also been a revelation in attack, with his goals helping the Hammers secure European qualification.

Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, both of West Ham, add real star quality to a Czech team that lacks it in other places, and they will both play key roles if they are to make an impact this summer. Jaroslav Silhavy’s rigid 4-2-3-1 has Soucek at its centre, while Coufal’s energy and determination keep them going forward down the right flank.

PREDICTED LINEUP

Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Tomáš Vaclík.
Defenders: Vladimír Coufal, Tomáš Kalas, Jakub Brabec, Jan Bořil.
Midfielders: Tomáš Souček, Alex Král, Lukáš Masopust, Matěj Vydra, Jakub Jankto.
Forward: Patrik Schick.

PREDICTED FINISH

The Czech Republic is a promising team, but they lack the talent of England or Croatia, and their recent record versus Scotland, who appear to be in good shape, isn’t exactly encouraging. However, Czech Republic appears to be edging out Scotland for third place. That may be enough to get them into the last 16, but Spain will most likely be their first knockout-round opponent. Of course, bigger shocks have occurred, but we don’t see them getting the better of La Roja, implying that their magical runs of 1996 and 2004 will not be repeated.

They will see their first game against the Scots at Hampden Park as a winnable one, and if they can produce a positive result, they will likely finish third, giving them a 50/50 chance of qualifying depending on how other teams perform. The Czechs, though, appear to be the weakest of the four teams in Group D, therefore they may be eliminated at the group stage for only the fourth time in their history. Their highest predicted finish this year seems to be the last sixteen.

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