I apologize for the delay on this one. I almost had it published 2 days ago, but I got lazy and failed to finish the last few sections. I'll continue to try and get back on track.
I'll now be taking a look at the Czech Republic. Yeah, I know this isn't a team that is expected to win this. But if I stopped writing these things today, I can guarantee that you will have learned a lot more than if you were reading about how Spain won the world cup. So, I bring you the Czech National Team!
Jaroslav Drobny- Hamburg
Tomas Grigar- FK Teplice
Jan Lastuvka- Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Note: the team can only have 3 keepers. One of these will be dropped before the tournament.
Theodor Gebre Selassie- Slovan Liberec
Michal Kadlec- Bayer Leverkusen
Marek Suchy- Spartak Moscow
Roman Hubnik- Hertha Berlin
Tomas Sivok- Besiktas
Daniel Pudil- Cesena
Frantisek Rajtoral- Viktoria Plzen
David Limbersky- Viktoria Plzen
Milan Petrsela- Viktoria Plzen
Jan Rezek- Anorthosis
Tomas Rosicky- Arsenal
Jaroslav Plasil- Bordeaux
Vaclav Pilar- Viktoria Plzen
Tomas Hubschman- Shakhtar Donetsk
Daniel Kolar- Viktoria Plzen
Petr Jiracek- VfL Wolfsburg
Tomas Necid- CSKA Moscow
Milan Baros- Galatasaray
Tomas Pekhart- FC Nurnberg
David Lafata- Jablonec
Euro Group A
(You can click on the nation to see the previous posts)
The Czech Republic has had a short but memorable soccer history. The country was once a part of a successful Czechoslovakia that actually won the Euros in 1976 and made it to the final of the world cup twice. However, in 1993, the nation split into modern Czech Republic and Slovakia, with their won corresponding teams. The Czechs would inherit the success, reaching the finals of the Euros in 1996. They would continue to qualify for the other 4 Championships, including this one, though they have not matched that easy success. They have been poorer in the World Cup, with only one appearance in 2006 that left them knocked out in the group stage.
The Bohemians (Czech Republic is in what was Bohemia) qualified to the Euros through playoffs after coming in second in group I. They finished ahead of Liechtenstein, Lithuania, and Scotland but finished behind Spain. The Czechs finished with 13 points, 2 ahead of Scotland and 11 behind Spain's perfect 24. The Czechs suffered a major setback when they lost to Lithuania in their first match. However, they recovered to grab second. They played their playoff against Montenegro who they beat 2-0 and 1-0 to win 3-0 on aggregate.
Czech Republic played a 4-5-1 in their playoff against Montenegro and are likely to do the same during the Euros. Michal Bílek is the current coach. Bílek is Czech and played as a midfielder for his country during his playing career. He has coached throughout the Czech league since 2001, with a stint with the U19 international team. He was appointed as the national coach in 2009.
The team do not have a proper nickname and are just called the Nároďák, which means National team. Expect the Czechs to wear Red shirts with white shorts at home and the reverse for away. Both jerseys have a blue trim. They are ranked number 29th in the world and 16th in Europe by FIFA.
Players of Mention
I am going to be quite honest. I did not properly know who Tomas Rosicky was before this year. Acquired from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, he has spent a lot of time on the injury list. However, this year, he stepped in to help compensate for the void that had been left when Fabregas left. By the end of the season, Rosicky had cemented his place in the starting 11 and had proven to everyone that he still has some genius to spare. Rosicky played in 38 games and scored 2 goals with many more created opportunities that helped Arsenal secure 3rd place.
Petr Cech is the starting goalkeeper for both the Czech Republic and Chelsea. With Chelsea, he went on to win the Champion's League. Of note, Cech saved 3 PK's in the final: one in overtime that would have ended Chelsea, and one in the PK shootout. Chelsea went on to win when Bastian Schweinsteiger's PK was deflected to the post by the Czech. Cech was instrumental in carrying Chelsea to the final, bailing out the defense when they were overcome by the bombardment from Barcelona, Napoli, and Bayern Munich in their respective games. Cech holds the record to fasts to reach 100 clean sheets, securing it in only 180 appearances. He has also won multiple personal awards with his team. If you don't know, Cech wears a rugby style helmet because he got kicked in the head and received a depressed skull fracture. He wears the cap to protect and reinforce his head. Cech is the 4th most capped player for his country with 89 appearances. He makes a trio of modern Bohemian players who will probably claim the most caps in their country's history.
Rosicky is the captain of the Czech Republic and probably their best player. Though he only scored 2 goals all year for Arsenal, he is the 5th highest scorer for his country with 20. He has a total of 86 appearances at the international level, the 6th highest for the country.
Baros is the second highest scorer in the history of the Czech national team. He also has the 5th most caps with 88. He plies his trade in Galatasaray who finished first in the Turkish first division. The 30 year old has 59 goals in 112 for the Turkish side. Baros will be depended on to score quite a bit for the Bohemians. Guess who is a teammate of Baros? Emmanuel Eboue.
Chances in Euro 2012
The Czechs have a nucleus of world class players. The also have the potential of creating a him field advantage at their games in Poland. The Czech Republic is a neighbor of Poland and might be able to draw a lot of Czech Citizens as well as ethnic Czechs to their games. Home field advantage is, of course, very important. It might just be the little push to get them over the likes of Russia and Greece, though it is unlikely that the Czechs will outnumber the Poles in their match against the co-hosts. If the Bohemians can get out of their soft group, they will find themselves in front of one of the favorites from the Group of Death. They will likely play against Holland or Germany, though Portugal and Denmark are no pushovers.
Matches to Watch
Czech Republic vs. Russia
I am really considering calling Group A The Group of Former Communists and Greece. There has been so much political tension between Russia and her former satellites that I can't imagine none of it spilling onto the field. Factor in the Czechs coming across the border to watch and the Poles hate of Russia and you have quite the atmosphere.
I expect the Czechs to make it out of the group only to be steamrolled by Germany or Holland.
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