Tomas Danicek’s Croatia v Czech Republic preview: more of the same could cost the Czechs
Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering the Czech Republic throughout Euro 2020
After two failed attempts at previous European Championship editions, the Czechs finally opened their Euros (somewhat) strongly — much like in 2008 when they also squeezed out three points from a fairly unimpressive effort against a side with significant backing from the home crowd. There’s a lot to work on still.
No Czech will need reminding of how that 2008 Euro proceeded following a lucky victory against Switzerland; zero points from the two toughest games on schedule, with a spectacular collapse against Turkey to close it out, and off they went after the group stages.
Now the fixture list is eerily similar, just as tough, with one half of 2018 World Cup final four awaiting. Granted, there was no Round of 16 for third-place teams back in 2008, but even now, there’s no room for complacency as the Czechs continue to struggle building from the back and defend in the middle.
It’s worth keeping in mind the Czechs only really looked like the better side for 15-20 minutes against Scotland, needing two moments of pure magic from Patrik Schick — one tough header, one curled halfway line strike that immediately went down in history books — and a couple more from goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik to get this one over the line.
What now then? Do you keep the ball rolling with the same line-up, pretending this is some momentum-gaining triumph? Or do you switch it up, possibly recognizing the lack of form on the part of Alex Kral and Vladimir Darida especially, in order to find the actual optimal XI? The former is more likely with Jaroslav Silhavy, a notoriously conservative coach with his set of firm favourites, and it could easily cost us against a particularly hungry Croatia.