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Czechs' rivals aim to be class acts

Published: Wednesday 16 July 2008, 18.00CET
The Czech Republic set the pace in Group B but there are three teams eager to get into their slipstream when the second matches take place on Thursday.
by Patrick Hart
from Liberec
Czechs' rivals aim to be class acts
Daniel Sturridge's England must get up and running ©Sportsfile
Published: Wednesday 16 July 2008, 18.00CET

Czechs' rivals aim to be class acts

The Czech Republic set the pace in Group B but there are three teams eager to get into their slipstream when the second matches take place on Thursday.

The Czech Republic may have scored top marks on Monday but, for the other three teams in Group B, the report card shows room for improvement. That will be the target for Greece, England and Italy when the second chapter unfolds in the Bohemia-based section of this UEFA European Under-19 Championship.

Must do better
Thursday's night match pits a still point-less England against an Italian team who needed a last-minute penalty to draw with Greece. England can and must do better, according to coach Brian Eastick. "We need to be moving the ball quicker and to show better movement but in particular we need to eliminate the errors," Eastick told uefa.com. "We didn't move the ball quickly enough or well enough, we didn't stretch the opposition, we didn't play with our heads enough or with enough technique," he added of the 2-0 defeat by the Czechs.

'Tough workout'
Where England are missing their captain from the qualifying competition, Ciaran Clark, as well as striker Andy Carroll because of injuries, Italy recover two players from suspension for the encounter at Jablonec's Strelnice Stadion. Whether forward Stefano Okaka Chuka and midfielder Silvano Raggio win instant recalls is a moot point, given coach Francesco Rocca – also back from a ban – was "pleased" with the performance in the 1-1 draw with Greece. "We played well," he told uefa.com. "It was an intense game and we put a lot into it as we were always looking to attack. However, I think we can still improve fitness-wise and we'll try to do that against England. It will be difficult, though, because they are strong opponents who always give you a tough workout." Midfielder Andrea Mazzarani is an injury doubt with a knock to his right knee.

Indiscipline
The 18.00CET kick-off in Liberec, meanwhile, represents a first glimpse of tournament action for the U Nisy Stadion. The hope for the locals is that the Czech Republic will repeat the impressive showing that brought them their opening victory, although the immediate priority for Jakub Dovalil's side is another three points, against Greece. Having passed their English exam, the Czechs will be told to tidy up their act after left-back Jakub Heidenreich and centre-back Roman Brunclík were both sent off on Monday for two bookable offences. "Overall, it was a lack of discipline and we'll have to make changes," said the coach. Opportunity could knock for Miroslav Štěpánek or Jan Lecjaks.

Positive thinker
Greece are unlikely to stand on ceremony for the hosts, however. Alexis Alexiou's team may have only two survivors from last year's run to the final in Austria – Sotiris Ninis and Ioannis Papadopoulos – but they were minutes away from beating Italy. Midfielder Leonidas Argyropoulos saw that result as a springboard to further success, despite the late sting in the tail. "We could have taken the three points but it was typical of football that we didn't," he told uefa.com. "Yes, it could have been a win, but it was a good performance, a positive result and we aim to do even better." A right knee complaint leaves a question mark against midfielder Savas Gentzoglou's fitness, yet Vassilis Lampropoulos and Nikolaos Boutzikos return from suspension and could play a part.

Last updated: 16/07/08 22.05CET

Related information

http://www.uefa.com/under19/news/newsid=732738.html#czechs+rivals+class+acts