Having seen his side score three excellent goals against Denmark on Sunday to reach the semi-finals, Karel Brückner might have sung the praises of another fine attacking performance. But for the Czech Republic coach, the real positive to be drawn from another impressive victory was at the back, with substitute Zdenek Grygera in particular earning commendation.
Foundations for success
A goal from Jan Koller and two more from Milan Baroš sealed victory in an explosive 20-minute spell at the start of the second half, but for Brückner, the foundations for success had been laid during a tense opening period. "The defenders fulfilled our objective of tiring out our opponents in the first half," Brückner said. "It was very important to survive without falling."
'Grygera of old'
Brückner's task was not helped by injury to Martin Jiránek, but Grygera proved an able replacement. "We saw the good Grygera of old, just as we knew him before," Brückner said. The right-back paid for the Czechs' poor start against the Netherlands when he was taken off after only 25 minutes with his side 2-1 down. But Brückner was now happy to welcome him back and said: "When once I criticised him, now I must admire him.".
The AFC Ajax defender's revival could prove pivotal for the Czechs, as Jiránek is expected to miss the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury. Centre-back René Bolf should be fit to face Greece despite limping off against Denmark; David Rozehnal stands by if the AJ Auxerre defender does not recover in time.
With underdogs Greece up next, Czech fans might be forgiven for stealing a glance towards the final, but Brückner warned against it. "Greece beat the hosts, Portugal, and the title holders, France," he said. "I don't agree that they rely only on destructive play.
Start from zero
"They showed an attacking mind in the opening game [against Portugal] and they have had more time to rest than we have. That's a certain advantage." Brückner's captain, Pavel Nedved, echoed his coach's words when he said there was no place for overconfidence: "We will start from zero again and we must not repeat the mistake France made."
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