European Under-21 Championship Preview: Czech Republic - Spain
Luis Milla's side will look to put the disappointment of conceding a later equaliser in Sunday's opener behind them as they face a Czech outfit who beat Ukraine that same night
|Czech Republic (4-5-1): Vaclik; Lecjaks, Suchy, Mazuch, Celutska; Gecov, Kovarik, Vacha, Horava, Dockal; Pekhart||
Czech Republic lead Group B after beating Ukraine 2-1 on Sunday. Kaiserslautern midfielder Jan Moravek is still struggling with injury and may be left out of the starting line-up for a second game running, having featured only as a late substitue against Ukraine.
The Czechs should otherwise be at full-strength and will line up in the defensive-minded 4-5-1 formation, with giant striker Tomas Pekhart the reference up front.
|Spain (4-3-3): De Gea; Montoya, Botia, Dominguez, Jose Angel; Javi Martinez, Ander, Thiago; Mata, Bojan, Muniain|
Spain looked imperious in midfeld for long spells against England, but Luis Milla's side lacked a cutting edge up front and Deportivo La Coruna striker Adrian Lopez failed to cause problems for Stuart Pearce's men. Bojan, a late substitute against England, is likely to get a chance to shine in his place for this match, along with Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain, who has recovered from tonsillitis and is set to replace Jeffren Suarez.
In defence, Barcelona target Jose Angel could come in for Didac Vila, who had a poor game against England. Sevilla winger Diego Capel is also in contention for a start.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
Czech Republic are unbeaten at this level since 2008 and were champions of this competition in 2002.
The Czechs have secured three 8-0 wins at this level - against Bulgaria in 2001, Liechtenstein in 2007 and San Marino in 2009.
- Striker Tomas Pekhart, who had a spell at Tottenham when he was younger, has represented Czech Republic at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-20 and under-21 level. He is also the country's all-time topscorer at this level, with 16.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was won the Player of the Tournament prize in his side's 2002 victory.
Since winning in 2002, the Czechs have failed to qualify for three out of the last four tournaments.
Senior Spain coach Vicente del Bosque rates the Czech side. He said: "Spain are a great team but they could have difficulties because Czech Republic are a very strong side."
Spain's biggest win at this level was a 14-0 thrashing of San Marino in 2005, while their worst loss was a 5-0 defeat to Holland in 1983.
Spain won this tournament in 1986 and 1998, having finished as runners-up in both 1984 and 1996. La Rojita have also finished third twice, but have not secured a top-three finish since 2000.
Spain came from behind to beat Czech republic 2-1 in a Euro 2012 qualifying match when the senior sides met back in March. David Villa scored both goals in that match to become La Roja's all-time top goalscorer.
The Under-21 side's last defeat came a day before that match as La Rojita went down 3-2 to France.
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Top 3 Predictions
Czech Republic Under 21 0-2 Spain Under 21
- 22.16 %
Czech Republic Under 21 1-2 Spain Under 21
- 16.22 %
Czech Republic Under 21 1-1 Spain Under 21
- 12.97 %
|UEFA European U21 Championship (EU21)||Jun 15, 2011||Czech Republic Under 21 0 - Spain Under 21 2|
|Czech Republic Under 21|
|Oct 16, 2012||Russia Under 21 2 - Czech Republic Under 21 2||EU21|
|Oct 12, 2012||Czech Republic Under 21 0 - Russia Under 21 2||EU21|
|Sep 10, 2012||Czech Republic Under 21 5 - Wales U21 0||EU21|
|Sep 7, 2012||Montenegro Under 21 0 - Czech Republic Under 21 0||EU21|
|Jun 5, 2012||Andorra U21 1 - Czech Republic Under 21 5||EU21|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|-||Rubén Miño Peralta|
|-||Mikel San José Domínguez|
With the more experienced Jan Moravek, who is the captain of Kaiserslautern, unlikely to recover from injury, Kovarik needs to step up in this match as the Czechs' five-man midfield attempts to stifle Spain's passing game.
Defeat would be disastrous and as the most experienced player in the side (with 170 La Liga appearances and a World Cup winner's medal), Martinez will be expected to deliver once again - and perhaps even more decisively this time around.
Spain, on the other hand, need a reaction after throwing away two points against England. The tournament favourites dominated that match but conceded a late goal and could even have lost at the end. Expect a reaction in this match and a comfortable win for La Rojita.