The stakes could not be higher when Turkey and the Czech Republic meet for the first time in a competitive fixture in their final UEFA EURO 2008™ Group A match.
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The scope for drama is considerable when Turkey and the Czech Republic meet in their concluding Group A game in Geneva both seeking the victory that would carry them into the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008™.
• The teams will step out into the Stade de Genève on Sunday with identical records, having each collected three points, scored two goals and conceded three in their two games to date. The win-or-bust scenario is lent extra spice by the prospect that, should the game end in a draw, the teams would settle the contest for second place with a penalty shoot-out – a first of its kind in the UEFA European Championship.
• Should penalties be required, history would be on the side of the Czech Republic, who overcame France 6-5 in a shoot-out in the EURO '96™ semi-finals. Czechoslovakia defeated West Germany 5-3 on penalties to win the 1976 UEFA European Championship final and also overcame France 9-8 in a shoot-out in the third-placed match four years later. As Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, therefore, they have won three competitive shoot-outs out of three, scoring 20 spot-kicks and missing none.
• Turkey, in contrast, have never been involved in a competitive shoot-out at senior level.
• Turkey climbed level on points with the Czechs by coming from behind to defeat co-hosts Switzerland 2-1 last Wednesday, Arda Turan getting a 92nd-minute winner in Basel after Semih Şentürk (57) had cancelled out Hakan Yakin's first-half goal for the Swiss. Fatih Terim's men had earlier begun their campaign with a 2-0 opening-day loss to Portugal in Geneva, succumbing to second-half strikes from Pepe and Raul Meireles.
• Having opened the tournament with victory against Switzerland – Václav Svěrkoš (71) scoring the only goal – the Czechs came unstuck against Portugal, going down 3-1 in Geneva. Although Libor Sionko cancelled out Deco's early effort, Karel Brückner's men had no response to second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma.
• The history of the fixture favours the Czech Republic. They won the countries' inaugural meeting 4-1 in Istanbul on 23 February 1994 and prevailed again in the next two friendly meetings on home soil: 3-0 in 1996 and 4-0 in 2003. Current Czech internationals Jan Koller and Milan Baroš were both on target in that latter success in Teplice, which also featured the international debuts of Turkey defender Servet Çetin and midfield player Gökdeniz Karadeniz.
• Turkey retrieved a two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw in the teams' most recent encounter in Izmir on 1 March 2006. Ümit Karan scored two late goals to cancel out earlier strikes from Karel Poborský and Jiří Štajner.
• The teams that day were:
Turkey: Rüştü Reçber, Mehmet Topuz, Tolga Seyhan, Gökhan Zan, Ugur Boral (Yıldıray Bastürk), Hasan Sas (Orhan Ak), Necati Ates, Hüseyin Çimşir (Ümit Karan), Tuncay Şanlı (Akin Ibrahim), Ersen Martin (Nuri Sahin), Gökhan Ünal (Halil Altıntop).
Czech Republic: Petr Čech, Martin Jiránek (Karel Piták), David Rozehnal, Tomáš Ujfaluši, Marek Jankulovski, Karel Poborský, Tomáš Rosický (Marek Heinz), Jan Polák, Jaroslav Plašil (Štěpán Vachoušek), Milan Baroš (Tomáš Jun), Jiří Štajner (Lukáš Zelenka).
• Turkey also came off second best against the former Czechoslovakia, recording one win, two draws and seven defeats in ten fixtures played between 1924 and 1981. Their solitary win was a 1-0 home success in a 1958 friendly.
• Turkey's two previous finals appearances in 1996 and 2000 brought a first-round exit followed by a quarter-final appearance.
• The Czech Republic's best performance in their three previous UEFA European Championship finals appearances was in 1996, when they reached the final. As part of the former Czechoslovakia, they were European champions in 1976.
• Turkey midfielder Emre Belözoglu was a team-mate of Czech defender David Rozehnal at English Premier League side Newcastle United FC during the first half of the 2007/08 season.
• Jan Koller played in the AC Sparta Praha side that overcame Galatasaray AS in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup preliminary round. Two seasons later, Turkey's Emre was in the Galatasaray team that beat Sparta at home but lost 3-0 away in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Turkish internationals Sabrı Sarıoğlu, Ayhan Akman and Arda Turan were in the Galatasaray side that beat Czech side FK Mladá Boleslav 5-2 in Istanbul en route to a 6-3 aggregate triumph in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round in August 2006. Arda (2) and Sabrı both found the net against a Mladá Boleslav side containing Czech international Marek Matějovský.
• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth edition that features a final tournament with a group phase.