Czech Republic Euro 2012 Focus – Must-win match after abysmal Russia performance

Losing your first game in a tournament can often lead to failure, but Czech Republic’s shocking performance throughout the game is even more of a worry for Coach Michal Bilek.

Preparations for the tournament had been less than ideal, with a change of coach and a play-off against Montenegro needed just to qualify for Euro 2012. The lack of unity that has been suggested by fans of the nation was evidently clear in the 4-1 demolition at the hands of Russia, as star players Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and Petr Cech had no answer to the Russian charge. The score could have been much higher for Russia if Aleksandr Kerzhakov had brought his shooting boots to the tournament, and the Czech Republic must learn from their several mistakes if they are to go any further in the competition.

To improve, the Czech’s need to allow their star players a chance to shine in the upcoming fixture against Greece. Rosicky is the one man in their team that can unlock a tough defence, something which they will definitely be up against with their next opponent – Greece. To allow him the freedom he desires, Czech Republic could start with a natural holding midfielder to let him off the leash. Tomas Hubschman came on for the Czech’s in the second half against Russia to fill this role, but the damage had already been done. With Hubschman in the side sitting in front of the back four, Rosicky can then concentrate on finding Baros in more dangerous areas of the pitch.

Czech Republic must be looking to win the game against Greece, and therefore Baros could benefit from a natural strike partner too help share the load as far too often in the game against Russia he was cut adrift from the rest of the team. The defensive issues must also be sorted out if the Czech’s are to progress, with Michal Kadlec looking out of sorts at left-back. Predominantly a centre back for his club Bayer Leverkusen, he must play in his strongest position for his country if the Czech’s are to see him reach his full potential. David Limbersky may come in at left-back to help retain balance to a defence that looked out of its depth against Russia.

A loss in the opening game can be a disaster, but for the Czech’s they must look positively towards their two upcoming fixtures. Both Greece and Poland showed their frailties in the opening tie of the tournament, and these must be exploited if the Czech Republic are to make any kind of mark in this year’s European Championship. They must go into Tuesday’s game against Greece with complete confidence in their own ability, safe in the knowledge that a victory will see them right back in the chase for the top two places in the group.

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