The official website for European football

Brückner tells Czechs to step up

Published: Wednesday 11 June 2008, 4.46CET
Czech Republic coach Karel Brückner admits his side must raise their game when they meet Portugal, the early Group A leaders, in Geneva this evening.
by Pete Sanderson
from Geneva
Brückner tells Czechs to step up
Karel Brückner in conversation with Marek Jankulovski after the win against Switzerland ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

Czech RepublicPortugal

Goals scored4
Total attempts34
Attempts on target11
Attempts off target17
Attempts blocked0
Attempts against woodwork1
Yellow cards4
Red Cards0
Fouls committed50
Fouls suffered48
Published: Wednesday 11 June 2008, 4.46CET

Brückner tells Czechs to step up

Czech Republic coach Karel Brückner admits his side must raise their game when they meet Portugal, the early Group A leaders, in Geneva this evening.

Czech Republic coach Karel Brückner admits his side will have to raise their game if they are to tame Portugal when the Group A pacesetters come face to face at the Stade de Genève on Wednesday. Brückner's team may have begun their UEFA EURO 2008™ campaign with a victory over Switzerland but his side have received criticism from some sections of the Czech media for putting pragmatism over pizzazz.

Team ethic
"I think it's a bit unfair that we are coming in for criticism after starting off the tournament with a win," Brückner told journalists at Tuesday's news conference in Geneva. "On Saturday, we focused our efforts on getting three points rather than the manner of victory. However, I think if we are realistic we need to improve our game in every area because Portugal are one of the favourites to win this tournament and it will take a great side to beat them. I admit we are not as strong as them offensively but that does not mean we are a weaker team. We are strong defensively, play well as a unit and are clever tactically, so it has the makings of a very close game."

Creative edge
Brückner has the luxury of being able to select from a full squad going into the match and is expected to name an unchanged side, keeping faith with forward Jan Koller in attack and, for the moment at least, leaving Milan Baroš – top scorer in the last edition of the EURO – kicking his heels on the bench. The coach laughed off suggestions Portugal's front line would have too much energy for his players. "Portugal have excellent forwards but we are ready for them after our rest," he said. "They are not a difficult team to prepare for from a tactical perspective because they are quite predictable. Perhaps we have to be more creative to win this game but I have faith in my team."

Physical quality
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is also likely to pick the same lineup as his charges attempt to move clear at the top of Group A with a win. The Brazilian was delighted with his team's opening-day success and considers swift counterattacking football the key to unlocking the Czechs. "We have to make the most of our technical qualities," he said. "It will be the same team as the one that beat Turkey but we always know we have quality on the bench in the likes of Fernando Meira. His physical presence could be important later in the game because the average height of the Czech team is 1.84m."

Revenge mission
Scolari predicts that the Czech Republic will provide stern opposition and added: "They are a very physical side but all my squad are in good condition and just because they are physical does not mean we will change our style. They have done well in previous tournaments and it will be a very balanced game." The Portuguese remember with some regret their defeat by the Czechs at the quarter-final stage of EURO '96™, when Karel Poborský's extravagant lob secured a 1-0 victory. Wednesday evening is the perfect opportunity to exact revenge.

Last updated: 11/06/08 18.53CET