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Czech Republic in focus

Published: Monday 7 November 2011, 9.22CET
The Czech Republic need to get past Montenegro in the play-offs if they are to feature at UEFA EURO 2012; assesses the form of the side that reached the EURO '96 final.
Czech Republic in focus
The Czech Republic celebrate a goal in qualifying ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 7 November 2011, 9.22CET

Czech Republic in focus

The Czech Republic need to get past Montenegro in the play-offs if they are to feature at UEFA EURO 2012; assesses the form of the side that reached the EURO '96 final.

With Michal Bílek appointed as head coach in October 2009 the Czechs began the qualifying campaign hopeful of a fresh start having missed out on the FIFA World Cup, but instead opened with a 1-0 home defeat against Lithuania. They bounced back quickly with a 1-0 win against Scotland and next triumphed in Liechtenstein, but eventual section winners Spain then inflicted a 2-1 defeat in Granada. A second 2-0 defeat of Liechtenstein kept the Czechs in contention for second place, although they twice had to come from behind in Scotland to snatch a 2-2 draw, Michal Kadlec's late penalty keeping them ahead of their opponents. Spain were 2-0 winners in Prague in the penultimate round of matches, but a 4-1 success in Lithuania on the last day in which Kadlec and Jan Rezek both scored twice sent the Czechs into the play-offs.

2010 FIFA World Cup
Qualifying Group 3: W4 D4 L2 F17 A6 Pts16
The Czech Republic finished third after winning only four games, two of them against San Marino. Off the pitch, coach Petr Rada, who had succeeded the long-serving Karel Brückner after UEFA EURO 2008, lost his job after a 2-1 home defeat by neighbours Slovakia on 1 April 2009. Caretaker František Straka took brief charge, overseeing a friendly win over Malta, but by the autumn resumption of qualifying, national association president Ivan Hašek had taken the reins. The Czechs did not lose another game – finishing with two wins and two draws – but it was already too late for a team struggling without former stalwarts Pavel Nedvěd and Jan Koller.

Final tournament: group stage
Qualifying Group D: P12 W9 D2 L1 F27 A5 Pts29
The Czechs reached their fourth successive UEFA European Championship finals after losing just one qualifying game – against a Germany side they later pipped to top spot with an emphatic 3-0 victory in Munich. They started the finals by beating co-hosts Switzerland 1-0 but then went down 3-1 to Portugal. Victory over Turkey in their last group game would have still seen the Czech side through to the quarter-finals, but they surrendered a 2-0 lead in the final 15 minutes and succumbed to a shock 3-2 defeat. Koller promptly announced his retirement, as did coach Brückner, who had been in charge since 2001.

UEFA European Championship best performance
The golden goal made its debut in senior international competition at EURO '96 and accounted for the Czech Republic as they went down 2-1 in the final at Wembley. Oliver Bierhoff scored the winner five minutes into extra time after the Czechs had lost a lead given them by Patrik Berger. In their first major tournament as an independent nation, the Czechs had shrugged off an opening loss to Germany by beating Italy and drawing with Russia to claim second place in their group. They then defeated Portugal – through Karel Poborský's cheekily lobbed finish – before overcoming France on penalties in the semi-finals.

Key facts
As part of Czechoslovakia, Czech players helped win the 1976 UEFA European Championship against the Federal Republic of Germany. The final ended in a 2-2 stalemate in Belgrade before Václav Ježek's side prevailed 5-3 on penalties with Antonín Panenka famously chipping in the final spot kick.

Play-off record
2002 FIFA World Cup
Belgium 1-0 Czech Republic
Czech Republic 0-1 Belgium

2006 FIFA World Cup
Norway 0-1 Czech Republic
Czech Republic 1-0 Norway

Last updated: 07/11/11 15.34CET

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