Euro 2012: spotlight on Czech Republic
- Wed 06 Jun 2012, 1:56PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
Optimism is in short supply for the Czechs, but a balanced group and a dusting of star names might just be enough to get them through.
A mood of pessimism has engulfed the Czech national team in recent times, especially since the retirement of several key players, including Jan Koller, Tomas Ujfalusi and Tomas Galasek.
In Petr Cech, Tomas Rosicky and Petr Jiracek, the Czechs do have players of real quality and in what is an evenly matched group, they might just make the quarter-finals.
The City connection: Slovan Liberec
Bear with us on this one…
Manchester City weren’t the only club in Europe to seal a title in dramatic style – Slovan Liberic left it late to seal their third Czech league title.
Granted, it wasn’t quite Sergio Aguero in the 94th minute but they did face FC Viktoria Plzen on the final day of the season knowing that a draw was enough to see them over the line. Despite a spirited rally from Plzen, it was Liberec who prevailed.
It was the first time a Czech title has been decided on the last day of the season and when you consider that Liberec is known as “the Manchester of Bohemia” thanks to its ties to the textile industry, you’ll forgive us the tenuous link.
The boss: Michel Bilek
Former assistant Michel Bilek has been in charge since 2009, taking the reins after the country failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Despite facing heavy criticism in the early days, Bilek has turned public opinion around after defeating Montenegro 3-0 on aggregate in the play-offs.
One to watch: Theodore Gebre Selassie
Born to Czech and Ethiopian parents, Theodore Gabre Selassie is an energetic right-back who was key to the afore-mentioned Slovan Liberec’s title charge.
Selassie became the first black player to play for the Czech national team when he made his debut in 2011 in a friendly against Peru.
Selassie can run all day and spends long stretches of play camped out in the opposition half, lending the extra man to his side’s attacks.
Key player: Petr Cech
You could argue that Cech is the one truly world class player at Bilek’s disposal and his presence and experience could be key if Czech Republic are to qualify from this group.
Cech will be riding the crest of a wave after playing a pivotal role in Chelsea’s triumphant Champions League campaign and he has spoken of his pride that so many of his hometown club Viktoria Plzen’s players will be in the squad.
Odds via Paddy Power: 50/1
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Jaroslav Drobny (Hamburg), Jan Lastuvka (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk).
Theodor Gebre Selassie (FC Slovan Liberec), Roman Hubnik (Hertha Berlin), Michal Kadlec (Bayer Leverkusen), David Limbersky (FC Viktoria Plzen), Tomas Sivok (Besiktas), Marek Suchy (Spartak Moskow).
Vladimir Darida (FC Viktoria Plzen), Tomas Hubschman (Shakhtar Donetsk), Petr Jiracek (VfL Wolfsburg), Daniel Kolar (FC Viktoria Plzen), Milan Petrzela (FC Viktoria Plzen), Vaclav Pilar (VfL Wolfsburg), Jaroslav Plasil (Bordeaux), Frantisek Rajtoral (FC Viktoria Plzen), Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).
Milan Baros (Galatasaray), David Lafata (FK Jablonec), Tomas Necid (CSKA Moskow), Tomas Pekhart (FC Nurnberg), Jan Rezek (Anorthosis Famagusta).
Come along and enjoy Euro 2012 at City Square, the only outdoor venue in Manchester showing the England matches.
We are kicking off with England’s opening match against France on June 11, with City Square open from 2:30pm. There will be free giveaways from the CityStore and EA, parking is free and The Summerbee Bar, Blue Moon Café and Star Bar will all be open.
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for kids and are available now from the box office - advance purchase only.