Following on from our look at Poland’s first two opponents Greece and Russia, EKSTRAKLASAreview talks to Chris Boothroyd of the fantastic Czech football blog “The Czech Up” about his nations’ feelings ahead of the competition.
How is confidence in Czech Republic ahead of the tournament?
Quiet I think. I don’t think many people expect the national team to set the world alight though that could well play into the team’s advantage. The majority of people I’ve spoken to all seem to agree that the Quarter Finals is both the maximum and minimum the club can achieve given who waits from Group B.
Are there any injury doubts, or players who will definitely miss the competition?
Thankfully there aren’t. Tomáš Rosický has made it through the season without any significant time spent out on the physio table which has been a welcome relief. Another Tomáš, Tomáš Necid ruptured his cruciate ligaments last year and in recent weeks has returned to action for CSKA Moscow. There was a question mark hanging over him in regards to his fitness, he is used predominantly as a substitute at the moment, but Michal Bílek has deemed him sharp enough to go and he could well cause problems off the bench. The only real injury worry is that of Daniel Pudil. The left-back/left-midfielder missed the last months of the season with an ankle injury, but he should be recovered in time for the summer.
Is there a game in the group stage thats stands out as difficult or significant?
It’s a tough group so it’s time to throw out the ‘there are no easy games in Europe’ cliché. All four teams are quite evenly matched so in that sense they will all be significant in determining who progresses from the group. But amongst that a number of members of the team will want to get their own back on Greece after Euro 2004 while the last game worries me. I wouldn’t want to enter that game needing a win.
Are the key players from your country hitting form at the right time?
Rosický has played some of the best football of his Arsenal career in the latter half of the season and if his performances in the Champions League are to go by Petr Čech is in fine form too. Again an obvious answer to point those out as key players for the side, but they are!
Who is the key threat that we should be looking out for?
Alongside Jaroslav Plašil of Bordeaux, see above! Though be aware of the two full-backs Theo Gebre Selassie and (probably) David Limberský. They could well do some damage in attack.
Are there any surprise picks in the squad?
Not especially. A few decisions raised eyebrows such as taking Marek Suchý over Jan Rajnoch, but by and large it was a squad that most people predicted.
What are the expectations for the tournament?
As I said at the beginning the Quarter Finals is probably the most realistic aim. Progression will be tough, but it is very achievable, a sentiment shared among the other three in the group I’m sure. To get any further will be tough, but you never know in knock-out football…
Likely line up and formation?
Gebre Selassie – Sivok – Kadlec – Limberský/Pudil
Hübschman – Plašil
Rezek – Rosický – Pilař
As well as writing for various other sites, the bulk of Chris’ work can be found at The Czech Up, and he can be found and also on Twitter as @theczechup