After the heaviest defeat in their EURO history, the Czech Republic were pleasantly surprised by the buoyant atmosphere when they stepped out onto the training pitch on Saturday.
More than 2,500 fans flocked to the Municipal Stadium Oporowska to lend their support to the squad, whose dampened spirits were lifted by the warm applause they received the morning after their 4-1 opening defeat by Russia.
"The first game has never lost or won the tournament for anybody," Petr Čech told UEFA.com. "Now we have 180 minutes to qualify. We play Greece and Poland, who had a draw in the first game, so we are only one point behind. This is the positive thing to come out of the results yesterday. We know if we win both games, we will qualify. We've put ourselves under pressure to win the next game, but that's the way it is."
There was little the Chelsea FC goalkeeper could do to prevent his nation from a potentially morale-sapping loss at the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw. Two goals from Russian starlet Alan Dzagoev sandwiched a strike from Roman Shirokov before substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko capped an excellent performance from Dick Advocaat's men. Čech, however, is confident all is not lost.
He said: "
In 2008 we won the first game, and in 2006 at the World Cup we won the first game, but in both we were knocked out in the group stage. It does not mean anything yet. In 1996, the Czech team lost to Germany in the opening game, but then played in the final."
One of the reasons why the squad has so quickly refound its verve is the support of the fans who have travelled across the nearby border in droves to follow their team. Many of those who witnessed the defeat on Friday night shook off their own heavy heads to show their team that one bad 90 minutes does not make a summer tournament.
"We didn't expect so many supporters to turn up for our training session, it was as if we had won," said defender Tomáš Sivok. "We want to thank them for helping us get over the heavy defeat we suffered yesterday." Čech added: "We know we still have two games to play. We lost the battle, but we didn't lose the war, and that's the attitude with which we go into the next game."
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