UEFA EURO 2020 - CROATIA VS CZECH REPUBLIC PREVIEW
The Czech Republic will be looking to cement their place in the last 16 after spoiling Scotland’s party at Hampden Park in their group D opening match. Whilst Croatia will be looking to kick start their UEFA EURO 2020 campaign after falling to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of England in their opening game. The Czechs will believe that even a point against Croatia will be enough to seem them progress to the knockout stage.
WHEN DO CROATIA PLAY THE CZECH REPUBLIC?
The second match in Group D will get underway at Hampden Park on Friday June 18th with a 5pm kick-off. This comes a few hours before Scotland take to the field at Wembley, looking to overcome the disappointment caused by the Czech’s.
Croatia prepared for their UEFA EURO 2020 campaign with a 1-0 loss to Belgium and a painful 1-1 draw with Armenia. Their uninspiring form continued in their first Group D match, falling to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of England. The 2018 World Cup finalists looked a shadow of their former selves, failing to create any real attacking opportunities.
The Czech Republic fell short against an impressive Italian side, where they were beaten 4-0 in early June. The Czechs then cruised past an Albania side, winning 3-1 In their second warm up match ahead of EURO 2020. Patrik Schick hit a brace as the Czech’s put Scotland to the sword in their 2-0 win at Hampden Park. The Bayer Leverkusen striker’s first half header put the visitors ahead against the run of play, and his outrageous 50-yard strike 7 minutes into the second half was enough to seal all 3 points for the Czech Republic.
UEFA EURO 2020 QUALIFYING
Croatia were a far different side during the EURO 2020 qualifiers and finished as Group E winners, three points ahead of second-placed Wales. They lost one single game, against Hungary, and their run included some emphatic wins, including 4-0 against Slovakia. Bruno Petkovic was their top scorer with four, while Nikola Vlasic and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic both notched three. Croatia will attempt to rekindle that spark at EURO 2020 this summer and put some of their recent wobbles behind them.
The Czechs have already faced another of our EURO 2020 opponents in qualifying. England ultimately romped home at the top of qualifying Group A, recording seven wins in eight matches and emphatic results like a 6-0 win over Bulgaria and seven-goal humbling of Montenegro. Their near-perfect record had just one blemish – a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic in October 2019, which stood as their first Euro qualifying defeat in a decade. Defender Jakub Brabec levelled after Harry Kane had put England in front at the Sinobo Stadium in Prague. Then, with less than five minutes remaining, we saw a football fairy-tale come true. Zdenek Ondrasek came off the bench to make his international debut at 30 years of age and score a stunning winner. Overall, in Group A, the Czechs won five out of eight, losing away from home against England, Kosovo and Bulgaria.
As coincidences have it, these two last met in EURO 2016 – again in Group D. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic ran the show in midfield for Croatia, giving the Czechs marginal possession and chances. It was Ivan Perisic who opened the scoring in the first half and Croatia’s lead was doubled by Rakitic in the 59th minute. After the hour mark, Luka Modric left the field with an injury, which would turn out to be the least of Croatia’s worries. 2 goals in the last 15 minutes – including a last-minute penalty – got the Czechs back into the game, and the points were shared in a pulsating 2-2 draw. This turned out to be the only point the Czechs would pick up, leaving them dumped out after the group stage. Croatia would go all the way to the World Cup Final.
IN THE DUGOUT
Zlatko Dalic has been in charge since 2017 and is very popular among his players. He joined a national side that was toiling, had been beaten twice by Scotland and was on the verge of missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He soon turned them around and a late rally saw Croatia qualify via the play offs. No one for a second anticipated that Dalic would take his team all the way to the final, where they were beaten 4-2 by France. Real Madrid star Luka Modric shone as the star of that side, being named player of the tournament. Now 35 years of age and with over 130 caps to his name, Modric remains at the heartbeat of this current team. The big question is, can Dalic – with the odds again stacked against him – lead his country to another miracle?
The Czechs are managed by 59-year-old Jaroslav Silhavy. A defender in his playing days, Silhavy spent his entire career in his homeland where he made a record 465 top flight appearances during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. He won a total of four international caps for the former Czechoslovakia and made 18 appearances over eight years for their Under-21 team, several as an authorised over-age player. He initially enjoyed spells as an assistant coach at Viktoria Zizkov and Sparta Prague and eight years working in various roles within the Czech national team set up before striking out as a boss in his own right in 2007. He had brief spells with three Czech clubs, successfully battling relegation twice, before joining FC Slovan Liberec where he had his most successful season as manager in 2011–12, winning the Czech First League. Silhavy then had short runs managing two of the Prague clubs, Dukla and Slavia, before taking over the national side in 2018.
ONE TO WATCH
Patrik Schick will be looking to continue his rich vein of form after 2 goals against the Scots. The 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen striker hit 9 goals in 29 appearances for the Bundesliga side last season. The 6’1 striker certainly has an eye for a goal, and his all action display in the Czechs opening Group D match mean he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
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