The Czechs are a proven and consistent force on the international stage. They have never failed to qualify for a European Championships and managed a runners-up spot in 1996, which is their standout performance so far. In more recent times, expectations have been lowered due to a lack of quality players which resulted in a last 16 finish in the most recent Euro's in 2012 and not being able to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.
The Czech Republic are now a much younger team than times gone by and have far fewer players playing outside of the Czech first league. This is mainly due to the lack of quality coming through the ranks, resulting in the players not being able to span out through the European elite leagues, such has been the case with individuals in previous sides. However, this may not have had as big an affect on this side as some would think as the Czech's seem to be a much tighter knit unit under new manager Pavel Vrba, a man who has previous relations with many in the squad due to his time at Viktoria Plzen and seems to have instigated a bit of a revival in the current national team.
After his appointment at the start of 2014 the Czech Republic went on to win 4 games in a row, in the process beating the World Cup Semi-finalists the Netherlands, 2-1 at home. Their campaign faltered a little after this with 2 losses and a draw coming in the final 6 games of the campaign, but the 3 wins they accumulated helped the Czech's to top spot of a competitive Qualifying Group A. If the form that saw them ascend to top of the group can be transcended into Euro 2016 then the Czech Republic could improve on their most recent run of tournament displays.
The Czech Republic are battle hardened at major tournaments and if nothing else this big stage should not unnerve this side as they have a vast array of experience to call on. Although experience can only take them so far and when faced with a quality team the Czech's may come up short. They have a competitive group to contend with and to be realistic, progressing to the knockout stages would be more than this team are expected to achieve, but they cannot be ruled out and maybe a last 16 finish is not out of the realms of possibility.
|Belgium / Netherlands||2000||Group Stage||10|
|Austria / Switzerland||2008||Group Stage||11|
|Poland / Ukraine||2012||Quarter-Finals||6|
The Czech Republic have a good record at the European Championships, never failing to qualify, they even managed to fill the Runners-up berth back in 1996. Although equalling that feat this time around requires a serious stretch of the imagination.
|12.06.16||14.00||Turkey||0 - 1||Croatia|
|13.06.16||14.00||Spain||1 - 0||Czech Republic|
|17.06.16||17.00||Czech Republic||2 - 2||Croatia|
|17.06.16||20.00||Spain||3 - 0||Turkey|
|21.06.16||20.00||Czech Republic||0 - 2||Turkey|
|21.06.16||20.00||Croatia||2 - 1||Spain|
The Czech Republic will face a difficult task in France as they have been drawn in Group D along with Turkey, Croatia and Spain. They have already faced Turkey in qualifying, winning one game and losing the other which indicates a close fixture is in store when they play on 21st June. This may prove to be their best chance of points as the other 2 fixtures appear to be very difficult games.
Croatia appear to be an in form team and have one of the best squads that they have ever assembled and they may have too much quality for this rather average Czech Republic team. Spain again will surely beat this side as they are one of the favourites for the entire tournament and should have no problem dispatching the Czech Republic. All things considered, the Czechs will not be looking past the group stages and their most likely finishing position is 4th.
The Croats and the Spanish should occupy the first 2 placings in Group D and the fight for third will be between the Czech's and Turkey and on the most recent meeting Turkey are preferred. In one of the final games of qualifying Turkey comfortably beat the Czech Republic 2-0 and it may be a repeat performance in France that gives Turkey 3rd place ahead of the Czech Republic.
Below is a list of the 4 teams drawn in Group D and their FIFA World Ranking, as you can see, the Czech Republic are the lowest ranked team, just behind Croatia.
Borek Dockal who plies his club trade on the wing at Sparta Prague was the Czech Republic's leading goalscorer during qualifying with a 4 goal haul. The Czech Republic will badly need his talents and goalscoring ability this summer if they are to stand any chance of getting through the group stages. The 27 year old midfielder, Vaclav Pilar also put his name on the score sheet twice and will be a vital part of this Czech squad.
|Josef Sural||25||Midfield / Forward||1|
It is expected that the Czech Republic will be in a battle with Turkey to qualify third from Group D. This second rate squad will struggle to handle both Spain and Croatia and after gaining 0 points from both these fixtures it will make the game against Turkey that bit more important. I cannot see this side being a match for Turkey, as Turkey won their most recent meeting in qualification and seemed to have improved from there, where as this side has stagnated. This could well mean that the Czech Republic make an early exit from Euro 2016 with not even a point to their name.
The Czech Republic will be relying heavily on their goalkeeper Petr Cech at Euro 2016. He has consistently been one of the best keepers in the world for the past 10 years and shows no signs of stopping even at the age of 33. Cech is by far the most experienced and decorated player in the Czech Squad and we will be vital to this team, especially as they come into the tournament as under dogs and may be very dependent on their goalkeeper.
The Czech's usually try to play possession based football which has worked well through qualifying as they topped the group. This may not be the way to get results in France however, as they will mostly face teams that have more quality players and can retain the ball better than this side. It may be that they have to rely strongly on their defence and this may not prove to be a good tactic as they conceded 14 goals in 10 games during qualifying. This does not bode well for this side and they may face a tough task at Euro 2016.