Lack of Star Quality Could Leave Czech Republic Floundering

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Tomas Soucek has impressed for West Ham this season but can he lead Czech Republic to any kind of Euro 2020 success.

Czech Republic's Tomas Soucek has impressed at West Ham this season

After being drawn in a tough-looking Group D, the Czech Republic will be hoping to exceed expectations at Euro 2020 this summer.

At odds of 150/1 to win the tournament, it’s clear not too much is expected of Jaroslav Silhavy’s side, who will face England, Scotland and Croatia in their group in the early stages after finishing second behind the Three Lions in qualification Group A.

Pale Shadow of Previous Teams

Despite the fact they have decent European pedigree at this level, the current Czech Republic squad appears to lack the required star names to make much of an impact this summer. After being surprising runners-up back at Euro 96, they have qualified for every tournament the continent has staged since but rarely have they made many headlines, although they did finish third overall in 2004, winning four of their five games.

They were dismal in France five years ago, failing to win a game as they crashed out at the earliest possible stage, and making an argument for them to finish in the top two of their group this time around is difficult.

The Czech’s, who are 11/1 to win Group D, face tough ‘away’ games against the Scots at Hampden Park and England at Wembley, while sandwiched in between is a clash with World Cup runners-up Croatia, also in Glasgow.

Tough Group Tests Await

There could be a carnival atmosphere for the Scotland and England games depending on how many fans will be allowed to attend and Czech Republic will surely be up against it when they take on two of the home nations in their national stadiums.

Ranked 42nd in the latest FIFA world rankings, only Scotland (48) from the group are below them in the standings as England sit fourth and Croatia are 11th. Even though they can sometimes be misleading, those rankings further underline just how tough a job they have on their hands this summer. On the face of it, they are in a fight with the Scots to try and secure third place and make it through as one of the four best-performing third-placed teams in the tournament.

However, the Czechs lost to Steve Clarke’s side twice last year in the Nations League so it’s a fair assessment to say they will need to improve significantly in order to stand a chance of progressing.

Soucek the Main Man

That’s not to say there isn’t some talent in the squad. Tomas Soucek is probably the standout name and the West Ham midfielder is enjoying a superb season in the Premier League, with eight goals to his name so far. If Silhavy’s side are to cause a few shocks in the tournament they will need the 26-year-old to maintain those high standards and more.

His club-mate Vladimir Coufal has also caught the eye in the English top flight, while skipper Vladimir Darida, who plays his football in Germany with Hertha Berlin, and Sampdoria’s Jakub Jankto are others who they will hope to rely on this summer.

There doesn’t seem to be too many goals in the squad, as Matej Vydra, who is struggling to get a game for Burnley, only has six at international level while PAOK’s Michael Krmencik, who has nine for his country, and Zdenek Ondrasek do not look good enough to step up in a major tournament.

In previous years, the Czech Republic could call upon the likes of Petr Cech, Jan Koller, Tomas Rosicky and Pavel Nedved – all household names with bags of top-level experience – but they simply don’t have players of that calibre at the moment.

Realistically, getting out of the group will be an achievement in itself.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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