UEFA EURO 2020 - Scotland vs Czech Republic Preview
Scotland encounter a few familiar faces in UEFA EURO 2020 Group D this summer and a side we faced in the UEFA Nations League just a few months ago. The Czech Republic are our opponents in the opening group game at Hampden this summer and Scotland will no doubt take confidence from last year’s performances, where Steve Clarke’s men beat the Czechs home and away.
This summer, amid the intensity and pressure of a run of group matches, this latest encounter promises to be a very different prospect. The Czechs will arrive at Hampden off the back of one win, a draw, and a defeat in their recent run of internationals in March but boasting one of the star performers from this season’s English Premier League.
This is our Scotland v Czech Republic preview.
When do Scotland play the Czech Republic
Scotland face the Czechs in their opening Group D game on Monday June 14, 2021. The game is being played at Hampden before Scotland travel south, to Wembley, to face England four days later. The Scots’ final group match is against Croatia on June 22, with that game also being played at Hampden in Glasgow.
A 6-2 away win over Estonia saw the Czechs get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a flying start on March 24. West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek, who will enter Euro 2020 high in confidence after an outstanding season with his club, scored three in the win. However, Estonia opened the scoring in that match and further questions were asked of the Czech defence in their next game, at home against Belgium. Winger Lukas Provod showed his capabilities from long-range with the opener in the 50th minute but the Czechs only managed to hold onto that lead for 10 minutes, when Romelu Lukaku rescued a point for Belgium. Then in their most recent game on March 30, they were beaten 1-0 by Wales. The defeat at the Cardiff Stadium was bad tempered and only decided in the final 10 minutes after both teams had been reduced to 10 men. Czech striker Patrik Schick was shown a straight red for raising his hands in a clash with Connor Roberts, who was later sent off for a second booking.
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifying
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 fairytale 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.
We don’t have to go too far back, with both teams recently facing each other in UEFA Nations League last year. The Czechs ultimately won Group B2 and promotion to the A groups, finishing two points ahead of Scotland with four wins and two defeats. However, both of those losses were against Steve Clarke’s men. Lyndon Dykes and Ryan Christie scored as Scotland came back from a goal behind to win 2-1 at the Andruv Stadion in Olomouc last September. The Scots then beat the Czechs again the following month at Hampden, thanks to Ryan Fraser’s sixth minute strike.
In the Dugout
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
Tomas Soucek has enjoyed an exceptional season at club level in the heart of a West Ham team who, managed by Davie Moyes, stunned everyone with a top six finish. Their 26-year-old Czech midfielder was instrumental in that success and a driving presence in the heart of the park. A box-to-box midfielder, Soucek excels in his defensive duties but also provides a genuine goal threat. He finished as West Ham’s joint top goalscorer in the English Premier League with 10 and a total of 11 in all competitions. Tall and powerful, he has scored seven in 33 appearances for his national team. Soucek has also been Czech player of the year two seasons running and in 2020 won the Czech sportswriters’ Golden Ball award.
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