Team profile: Czech Republic

A four-game unbeaten run and a resurgent Tomas Rosicky have boosted the Czechs heading into Euro 2012, but the team need to sharpen in attack if they are to survive the opening round.


The Czechs lack firepower up front, but fancy their chances in a relatively weak group if Rosicky, who has shone for Arsenal in recent weeks after a lengthy battle with injuries, stays fit.

Team officials breathed a sigh of relief when the Euro 2004 semi-finalists drew a group that included co-hosts Poland, Greece and Russia, so avoiding traditional powerhouses such as Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Reaching the last eight, however, will require Galatasaray striker Milan Baros to rediscover the scoring touch that made him the Golden Boot winner at the 2004 Euro finals.

The former Liverpool and Aston Villa man has only found the net twice for the national team in the past two years, but Czech coach Michal Bilek lacks proven options beyond the pacey striker, who at his best has the power to run through opposing defences.

"I can't see we will be an offensive team because we don't have too many offensive players at the moment," national team general manager and former Liverpool midfielder Vladimir Smicer said in a recent interview.

"Every single goal will be important."

The Czechs have won their last three competitive games since losing 2-0 at home to European and World Cup champions Spain in qualifying in October 2011. They drew 1-1 with Ireland in a February friendly.

They face a Russian team unbeaten in eight competitive matches while keeping a clean sheet in their final four Euro qualifiers. The two have met once in modern history, drawing 3-3 at Euro 1996 when the Czechs finished runners-up to Germany.

Poland are harder to gauge because the co-host nation qualified automatically, but the Poles have historically fared well against the Czechs, beating their central European neighbours in three of the four past meetings.

The Czechs will also need to find a way to score against Greece, something they have failed to do in their last three meetings. The Czechs also have extra motivation against the country that knocked them out of the Euro 2004 semi-finals.

Creating opportunities in attack starts with team captain Rosicky whose pinpoint passing and ability to run at defenders will make him a constant threat.

Emerging midfielders Petr Jiracek of Wolfsburg and Vaclav Pilar of Pilsen, who both gained Champions League experience last season with Pilsen, will also need to repeat the strong performances they turned in during the Euro qualifiers.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech gives the Czechs an experienced pair of hands between the posts while Bayer Leverkusen's Michal Kadlec and Hertha Berlin's Roman Hubnik will anchor a steady, if not spectacular, defence.

Czech coach Bilek has two more friendlies against Israel and Hungary to prepare for the tournament, hoping to repeat the successes of the 2004 team.

Czechoslovakia won the European Championship in 1976 and the Czechs last made a real impact on the international stage when they were runners up at Euro'96 to Germany in England.

This time they have qualified for the finals after beating Montenegro in a play-off after finishing runners-up to Spain in the qualifying group.

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