A heavy defeat by Russia on the opening day of the tournament did not deflate the Czech Republic, but they were ultimately found wanting. UEFA.com reflects on their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign.
In a nutshell
Despite a relative changing of the guard in the squad, the Czechs were competing at their fifth successive EURO. It looked likely to be short-lived when they lost 4-1 to Russia, but Michal Bílek's men showed real spirit to finish top of Group A. Unheralded before the tournament, players such as Theodor Gebre Selassie, Václav Pilař and Petr Jiráček are now not so under the radar and have picked up precious experience ahead of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The Czechs' Achilles heel, meanwhile, was just that – the Achilles injury to captain and playmaker Tomáš Rosický, ruled out of their final group game against Poland and the Portugal quarter-final.
The new players in the squad showed more than enough to suggest they could be the foundation of a bright future. As well as Gebre Selassie, Pilař and Jiráček, David Limberský, Daniel Kolář, František Rajtoral and Vladimír Darida have all performed to a level which shows them to be capable of mixing it on the international stage.
It is hard to choose between Pilař and Jiráček, who scored all four of the Czechs' goals between them. These skilful midfielders became stars of the tournament thanks to their confidence and willingness to run at defenders.
Hope for the future
Gebre Selassie, so impressive for Czech First League champions FC Slovan Liberec, continued his fine form in Poland and looks certain to be a cornerstone of the Czech team for many years to come.
No shots on target against Portugal in the quarter-final tells its own story; how much difference Rosický would have made, we will never know.
"We are disappointed to go home, but I think this European Championship was successful for us. We have been creating a new team for two-and-a-half years, so to get so far at our first attempt is a great achievement."
Experienced goalkeeper Petr Čech looks on the bright side.
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