Cech predicts top-three finish

PA Sport
Petr Cech
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Petr Cech

Goalkeeper Petr Cech is confident Chelsea will defy their critics to finish in the top three of the Barclays Premier League.

The 29-year-old, speaking in Dublin as he prepared for the friendly between his Czech Republic side and the Republic of Ireland, admitted the Blues have a fight on their hands to qualify for the Champions League.

Chelsea are currently fifth in the table, level on points with Arsenal in fourth and seven behind third-placed Tottenham, although Cech said: "I think we will finish better than fourth."

Cech headed off on international duty on the back of Saturday's comfortable 3-0 win over Bolton, and admitted the atmosphere within the Czech camp might be a little more relaxed than that at Stamford Bridge in recent weeks.

"When you go with the national team and then go back with the club, it's two different things," Cech said.

"If you have all the sort of problems in the club and the club is not doing well, and you come to an atmosphere where everyone is relaxed because you have made our target by reaching the European Championships, then the atmosphere is different and you can enjoy it.

"But you always separate the two teams because whatever problems you have with the national team or with the club, it doesn't really concern the team you are in. It's a different type of challenge. It will be a big challenge to turn things around."

Like Ireland, the Czech Republic have qualified for the Euro 2012 finals, where they will face co-hosts Poland, Greece and Russia, who pipped Giovanni Trapattoni's men to automatic qualification. He believes Group A could be too close to call, but is hopeful that the Czechs can progress.

He said: "I think we have exactly the same chances as the other three teams in our group because the quality is kind of equal.

"If you close your eyes and pick any two teams to go through to the next stage, you might get it right because, for me, everybody has the same chance. You have to fight for every goal and every point."

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