Tomas Danicek’s Czech Republic v England preview: questions over line-up and knock-out stage route
Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Czech Republic throughout Euro 2020
For the first time since that remarkable run to the semi-finals in 2004, the Czechs can be almost certain they’ll live to see the knock-out stages of a major tournament with a game to spare. I mean, it’s not 100%, but given the format and the 2016 experience, there’s no way a team with four points is missing out.
This obviously puts us in an unnatural position, making way for awkward discussions.
Will England approach our game much the same way they approached Belgium three years ago to avoid a seemingly tougher road to the final? Would our players and coaching staff calculate in any way; is no Schick or Soucek at least a distant possibility perhaps? Couldn’t a ‘dream’ Sweden matchup, where we would be fancied by some at least, prove to be our own nightmare given how we struggle to break down defensively sound opponents who sit back?
Is Copenhagen, with loads of Swedes in the stands, actually preferable to London where many Czechs are familiar with by now? Heck, at the time of writing, we are not even sure Spain won’t finish second! And doesn’t the fact Southgate will feel the urge to rotate a few players actually play in our disadvantage given how stale the English attack looked against Scotland?
So many questions to pose, so many answers to frustratingly not get, because there’s simply no way of knowing for sure at this point. Silhavy doesn’t strike anyone as a manager who overthinks stuff and could be expected to tinker in the last group stage game, but then again, this is his first tournament; we’ve never seen him in this particular position, so who knows?
One thing we do know: the Czechs improved ever so slightly against Croatia. Tidier in possession, the Coufal and Jankto-powered outfit experienced their best 15-20 minutes of the tournament early on against Croatia, which is something to build on. The ever so scrutinized centre backs look to have settled in nicely, and so the only question that continues to linger is: what to do with the captain? Darida runs a lot but still doesn’t contribute much at either end of the pitch, which is a concern and another matter to ponder about ahead of England. Would it make sense to explore other options before it’s too late?