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HOW THEY QUALIFIED

  GROUP I
GP GD PTS
1 Spain (Q)       8 8 0 0 20 24
2 Czech Republic (Q) 8 4 1 3 4 13
3 Scotland 8 3 2 3 -1 11
4 Lithuania 8 1 2 5 -9 5
5 Liechtenstein           8 1 1 6 -14 4


RESULTS TOP SCORERS
Sep 7, 2010: Czech Rep 0-1 Lithuania
Oct 8, 2010: Czech Rep 1-0 Scotland
Oct 12, 2010: Liechtenstein 0-2 Czech Rep
Mar 25, 2011: Spain 2-1 Czech Rep
Mar 29, 2011: Czech Rep 2-0 Liechtenstein
Sep 3, 2011: Scotland 2-2 Czech Rep
Oct 7, 2011: Czech Rep 0-2 Spain
Oct 11, 2011: Lithuania 1-4 Czech Rep
Nov 11, 2011: Czech Rep 2-0 Montenegro
Nov 15, 2011: Montenegro 0-1 Czech Rep
4 - Michal Kadlec
2 - Jaroslav Plasil,
Jan Rezek
1 - Milan Baros,
Roman Hubnik,
Petr Jiracek,
Vaclav Kadlec,
Tomas Necid,
Vaclav Pilar,
Tomas Sivok

Michal Bilek’s side recovered from a poor start to qualifying to earn their spot at Euro 2012 through the play-offs. Two second-half goals gave the Czech Republic an impressive first-leg victory at home to Montenegro in their first play-off match, before Petr Cech starred as they secured qualification in Podgorica.

However, it was a controversial decision away to Scotland that went a long way to helping the Czechs seal a play-off place. With Craig Levein’s side leading 2-1 in the 90th minute, the referee awarded a dubious penalty to the visitors after Jan Rezek went down under a challenge from Danny Wilson. Michal Kadlec duly converted the spot-kick to earn a point, and Rezek later admitted he made the most of the contact from Wilson.

PAST RECORD IN THE EUROS 

1960
Entered as Czechoslovakia
1988
Entered as Czechoslovakia
1964
Entered as Czechoslovakia 1992
Entered as Czechoslovakia
1968
Entered as Czechoslovakia 1996
Runners-up
1972
Entered as Czechoslovakia 2000
Group stage
1976
Entered as Czechoslovakia 2004
Semi-finalists
1980
Entered as Czechoslovakia 2008
Group stage
1984
Entered as Czechoslovakia 2012
Qualified through play-offs

The Czech Republic, who have qualified for the European Championships on every occasion since becoming an independent nation in 1993, came close to causing a major upset at their first tournament in 1996, beating Italy, Portugal and France on their way to losing the final in extra time against Germany at Wembley.

The Czechs gained their revenge by defeating Germany eight years later at Euro 2004 en route to the last four, but they were unable to even reach the knockout stages at Euro 2008. Leading 2-0 with 15 minutes remaining in their final group game against Turkey, an extraordinary collapse saw them concede three late goals and bow out of the competition.

THE MANAGER | MICHAL BILEK


Aged just 44 when given the difficult task of taking over a side who had failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, many questioned whether Bilek, whose only previous spell in international management had been with the Czech Republic Under-19s, had the experience to guide the national team to Euro 2012.

But the former Sparta Prague boss, who was appointed following Ivan Hasek's resignation in October 2009, helped his side bounce back from a disappointing start to guide them to Poland and Ukraine, proving he is not afraid to change things along the way, using no fewer than 32 players during qualification.

THE CAPTAIN | TOMAS ROSICKY


The experienced midfielder has been a mainstay in the Czech Republic team since making his international debut, featuring in all but one of his side’s fixtures at major tournaments between 2000 and 2006, with injury ruling him out of Euro 2008 and the majority of the qualification campaign for the 2010 World Cup.

Rosicky has been unable to recreate his best form for Arsenal since his lengthy absence through injury during the 2008-09 season, but he remains a key figure for the national team, having set up six of his side’s 15 goals during qualification for Euro 2012.

THE STAR PLAYER | PETR CECH

The goalkeeper made his name on the international stage at the European Championships, pulling off a number of important saves in his side’s run to the semi-finals in 2004 to earn a place in Uefa’s team of the tournament ahead of his pre-arranged move to Chelsea.

Cech has mixed memories of the competition after being largely at fault for Nihat’s equaliser for Turkey in the decisive group stage match at Euro 2008. The keeper accepted the blame for his side’s defeat and reportedly considered retiring from international football after the match.

However, the 30-year-old has proven he is still one of the best goalkeepers in football in 2011-12 by helping the Blues win the Champions League trophy, pulling off crucial saves in the semi-final against Barcelona before emerging victorious in the penalty shootout against Bayern Munich in the decider at the Allianz Arena.

THE EMERGING TALENT | TOMAS PEKHART


With CSKA Moscow’s Tomas Necid having now cemented his place in the national team set-up under Bilek, former Tottenham striker Pekhart - the record goalscorer for the Under-21 side - is the next youngster to emerge as one to watch for the future in Czech football.

Despite failing to make the breakthrough in English football earlier in his career, the forward has thrived since leaving White Hart Lane in 2010. He earned himself a move to German club Nuremberg following the Czech Republic Under-21s’ impressive 2011 European Championship campaign, and started both crucial play-off ties against Montenegro after stepping up to the senior side.


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