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Goal.com analyses tactically Czech Republic's chances to spring another surprise like they did in Euro 2004, with a couple of the veterans still in the squad..

SPECIAL
By Kaustav Bera


Czech Republic had to wade through the playoffs to book their place at Euro 2012 after they were in the qualification group with World and European champions, Spain. After their brilliant display in 2004 where they could have actually gone on to win the Euros had Pavel Nedved been fit, the Czech Republic performances have been indifferent on the international stage lately. It is remarkable however that Czech Republic, since their formation, have qualified in all the European Championships till date.

Although Bilek's tactics might not have made him the most loved, he did manage to get them qualified for Euro 2012. They could not have wished for a better group too than Group A to be in, as the international pedigree of the Czechs should see them through as sure qualifiers. However in reality it will be much tougher than it apparently seems.

FORMATIONS AND TACTICS

    How Czech Republic defend


Bilek played a 4-2-2-2 during the qualifying group stage but playing a 4-2-3-1 in the finals is all but certain as he himself admitted. Predicting who will start however is an analyst's worst nightmare. Kadlec, the Leverkusen left back will be in all probability expected to partner Sivok in central defense. Sivok is a traditional centre-back who is excellent in the air. Limbersky will be expected to fill in at left back. A pacy two footed player who loves joining in attacks, Limbersky will be ably supported on the other side by Selassie who is equally fast and loves linking up. The holding midfield player is a much contested spot though with Tomas Hubschmann being the usual choice as he started in most of the qualifiers. However when he was suspended, the double pivot of Jiracek and Plasil who started against Lithuania and the Montenegro qualifiers where the Czechs won 3-0 on aggregate, brought a much more fluidity to the Czech midfield. While Plasil likes to go forward Jiracek, a predominantly left footed player, plays much deeper preventing any danger.

How Czech Republic attack


The two wide players form the most important part of the Czech team as they use their pace and cross from the byline for Baros to feed on. Vaclav Pilar on the left and Jan Rezek on the right provide a different dimension to the Czech attack brimming with pace and they love beating the opposition full back and then hanging those balls in near post for Baros who loves drifting in there. In Tomas Rosicky, the Czechs have a world class playmaker and after injury plagued seasons galore with Arsenal, this season the 'Little Mozart' has been close to his best in the absence of Jack Wilshere, and has weaved his magic with his intricate range of passing to unlock any defense in the world. Plasil too loves roaming forward, ably supported by two pacy full backs in Limbersky and Selassie who love joining in the attacking forays. Milan Baros though is not a typical target man and has not been among goals of late, but what he will bring to the side is the ability to hold up the ball in order to bring the midfielders into play.


SWOT ANALYSIS

Strengths - Although the Euro 2004 core group of Cech, Rosicky, Baros and Plasil have been retained by Bilek, the real strength this time for the Czechs is in their wing play which is pacy and energetic with brilliant full backs to support them. Also in Petr Cech they have possibly the world's greatest shot stopper who has excelled in the second half of the season leading Chelsea to a Cup and Champions League double. Moreover Rosicky's brilliant season with Arsenal has given Bilek a great central attacking midfielder for his side.

Weaknesses - The lack of goals among the Czech strikers must be worrying Bilek. Milan Baros seems to be preferred inspite of not being among the goals as his replacements, the impressive youngster Necid too has had an injury plagued season with CSKA Moscow. In fact in the qualifiers, Kadlec was the highest scorer for them. Jiracek's cynical fouls and tackles, especially when the other two midfielders are further forward might be a cause for concern as it might lead to an early shower for him.

Opportunities - Czech Republic must take advantage of being placed in an easy group and play to their potential to progress. The pedigree of the 2004 batch as well as armed with a good looking defense will allow them to get results. Their impressive wing play will also come into action against the immobile defenses of the Greeks and the Russians.

Threats - What Bilek decides on the midfield trio may come to haunt him if the Czechs fail. Should he go for a holding midfielder or a much more fluid combination? The lack of a striker in form too means that the midfielders have to step up and make set pieces especially count if they were to progress.

COACH IN QUOTE


“The advantage of the 4-2-3-1 system is that it creates a strong midfield, and that there are fast and skilful players on the wings who can support Baros.”

- Michal Bilek

THE VERDICT

Czech Republic's lack of a potent goalscoring threat upfront will come back to haunt them as they will seemingly fall in the first hurdle they face in the group stages itself.

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