In football there are no stronger or weaker teams, but everything depends upon the kind of attack a side possesses. Czech Republic are not strong contenders for the Euro 2012 title as they lack steam in their attack. However, the Czechs will heavily depend on the services of Tomas Rosicky, who now plays in a central position and whose ball feeding to their lone striker Tomas Pekhart or Milan Baros would be crucial.
The 2004 Euro semi-finalists breathed a sigh of relief when they were drawn in a relatively weaker group comprising of Poland, Greece and Russia. This gives them an outside chance of making to the last eight, but for that the Czechs need to play some quality football. Their goalkeeper Petr Cech would be their star attraction and is a plus for the team at the firing area. The Chelsea goalkeeper was instrumental in making some clean saves during their qualifiers campaign, especially the playoffs.
The Czechs would also like to see their midfielders Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar repeat their strong performances that they showed during the qualifiers. Moreover, Cech will bring them experience between the posts, while Michal Kadlec and Roman Hubnik will take care of the defence.
Another person, who has held the team together, is Czech Republic's coach Michal Bilek. He has been at the helm of affairs since Czech failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and for him the journey has not been smooth. But Bilek has kept his critics at bay by seeing through the team to the Euro and fanning much expectation among the fans.
Since the split with Slovakia, the Czech Republic have qualified for five successive European Championships and in 1996 they reached the finals before losing to Germany. However, this year they are not the favourites, but being in a weaker group gives Czech a chance to sneak beyond the last eight stages.
Czech Republic squad:
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Jaroslav Drobny (Hamburg), Jan Lastuvka (Dnipro)
Defenders: Tomas Sivok (Besiktas), Theodor Gebre Selassie (Slovan Liberec), Roman Hubnik (Hertha Berlin), Michal Kadlec (Bayer Leverkusen), David Limbersky (Viktoria Plzen), Marek Suchy (Spartak Moscow)
Midfielders: Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal), Petr Jiracek (Wolfsburg), Tomas Hubschman (Shakhtar Donetsk), Daniel Kolar (Viktoria Plzen), Jaroslav Plasil (Bordeaux), Vaclav Pilar (Viktoria Plzen), Milan Petrzela (Viktoria Plzen), Vladimir Darida (Viktoria Plzen)
Forwards: Milan Baros (Galatasaray), Tomas Pekhart (Nuremberg), David Lafata (Jablonec), Jan Rezek (Anorthosis Famagusta), Tomas Necid (CSKA Moscow)
Recent Euro performances:
2008 – Eliminated in group stage
2004 – Eliminated in semi-final
2000 – Eliminated in group Stage
1996 – Runners-up
Keep an eye on: Tomas Rosicky, Tomas Pekhart, Milan Baros, Petr Cech
Prediction: The key players need to up their ante when the actual tournament starts and moreover being drawn in a weaker group gives Czech a chance to scrape till the last eight, maybe even further.
June 8, 2012: Czech Republic vs Russia, Wroclaw
June 12, 2012: Czech Republic vs Greece, Wroclaw
June 16, 2012: Czech Republic vs Poland, Wroclaw