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Montenegro defender Stefan Savić feels his side must summon the spirit that propelled them into the play-offs if they are to overturn their first-leg deficit and pip the Czech Republic to a place at UEFA EURO 2012.
Beaten 2-0 in Prague on Friday, the Balkan side's dreams of reaching a first major tournament now hang by a thread ahead of Tuesday's return in Podgorica. Moreover, their cause has hardly been helped by injuries to Simon Vukčević and Milorad Peković in training on Monday, with the former breaking his nose and the latter cracking a rib.
However, Branko Brnović's men can draw confidence from their solid home form in qualifying Group G, having gone four games unbeaten – including a rollercoaster 2-2 draw with England which clinched their play-off place.
Two goals down just after the half-hour mark, Montenegro rallied to claim the point they needed to finish as runners-up, and Savić told UEFA.com that the resilience he and his team-mates showed in that match bodes well for their hopes of bouncing back against the Czech Republic.
"We're disappointed with the defeat, but it's not over at all," said the centre-back, whose cross was headed home by Andrija Delibašić to equalise in added time against England. "There's still 90 minutes to play, and I think we can beat them in our stadium. It's going to be very hard, but we have hope.
We were losing 2-0 to England and we came back, and we had less time than we do now. We have a whole game. I think we can do it. We need to give 200% as it's going to be very hard."
It was a late header from Czech defender Tomáš Sivok at Stadion Letná that left Montenegro requiring another comeback mission, after Václav Pilař's spectacular drive had initially darkened their horizons just after the hour mark. "That was our worst display in qualifying," forward Dejan Damjanović explained. "I'm really sorry for our supporters as they put on a tremendous show. But we won't collapse – we're a totally different team at home.
"We have to be a lot more attacking in the second leg. Having lost the first game 2-0, we can't simply wait for a mistake from the Czech defence. We need a quick goal, and if we get that it'll be an open game, and everything is possible. If we start well, things will go our way, and maybe we can get an unbelievable result."
Their healthy first-leg advantage means the Czechs will nonetheless start as clear favourites to clinch a finals berth when the teams are reunited at Stadion Podgorica. They head to the Montenegrin capital knowing the home fans will give their team feverish backing, but Michal Bílek's squad plan to silence the crowd with a positive approach as they close in on a fifth successive appearance at a UEFA European Championship finals.
The approach is very simple: we want to score there," Czech captain Tomáš Rosický told UEFA.com. "If we do that, it'll be very difficult for them to catch us. We can expect a passionate crowd. We're looking forward to it as it'll be a great atmosphere. We know it'll be very tough for us, so we have to be patient and disciplined just as we were in the first leg, but obviously we feel confident."
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