The Czech Republic has shown that it is ready to compete with the heavyweights of European football after a run-up to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, which ended in a 2-1 defeat against an exciting Denmark.
Reinforced by a core of the Slavia team from Prague who reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League, and knocked out Leicester City and Scottish champions Rangers on the way, the Czechs used an energetic high press to create turnover and quick counter-attacks to launch.
This tactic was seen in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in a last 16 match, in which a well-organized Czech group stimulated the Dutch attack before using a red card to beat his opponent with ‘ to upset a better feeling.
Still, the determined Danes, who scored two goals in the first half, were too strong for the Czechs, who ended their hopes of reaching a first European semi-final since 2004 and a first final since 1996.
Midfielder Antonin Barak said his team’s run at Euro 2020 gave it something to build on as it looks to the next World Cup and sends a message that smaller countries such as the Czech Republic, Denmark and Switzerland are making their mark on big tournaments can print.
“We have to try to get out there, it will be another very important step,” Barak said. “The team has an excellent individual quality and can work well with it. And anything can happen in the tournament, look at us, the Danes or the Swiss.”
Under coach Jaroslav Silhavy, the Czechs regrouped after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and they began to rely on younger players such as Bayer Leverkusen forward Patrik Schick. perhaps the goal of the tournament so far.
Schick also beat the Danes to give the Czechs some hope and ended the tournament with five goals as the team’s leading scorer.
The Czech Republic made a good start to the tournament, with the win over Scotland and a 1-1 draw with Croatia, but did not put up a similar performance in a 1-0 defeat against eventual group winner England at Wembley . It was tactically wonderful in the last 16 victory over the Netherlands to bring about the encounter with Denmark.
Since 1996, the Czechs have qualified for every European Championship and advanced four times past the group stage, but have not made a major impact on the international scene since reaching the last eight at Euro 2012.
That started to change under former defender Silhavy, who put together a team with a core of current and former Slavia Prague players, including West Ham United duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal.
During the qualifiers, the Czech Republic beat England 2-1 at home, but there was still doubt as to whether the group needed to emerge from a group that also includes Croatia’s World Cup runners-up in 2018 and a Scottish team. played at home.
In doing so, the Czechs have shown that they will be a team to watch in the future, and with their mix of experience and youth – including 18-year-old Sparta Prague forward Adam Hlozek gaining valuable tournament experience – they will be tough opponent for whomver they face.
“I’m proud of the team, as well as all the people around me,” goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik said. “After such a tournament and this second half, we can turn our heads and leave with a clear conscience that we have done our best.”