Euro 2012 could be the last chance for an ageing Czech squad to make an impact on the biggest stage. After missing out on the 2010 World Cup, players like Tomas Rosicky and Milan Baros will be keen to have a good run at the tournament.
The first step in this direction will be to qualify for the quarter-finals. Michal Bilek’s team are the third favourites to win Group A, at odds of 7/2, but the good news is that they could, in reality, place much better than third.
Co-hosts Poland are second favourites in that group, largely due to the fact that they will play all three group games in their own country.
It is worth remembering, however, that home advantage did little to help Austria when they co-hosted Euro 2008 and picked up just a single point. It wouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, to see Poland at the foot of Group A.
Undoubtedly the biggest threat to the Czech Republic topping the group will be Russia.
Also joining the Czechs in the group stages will be 2004 shock winners Greece. The Greeks, though, are a shadow of that victorious side from eight years ago and will need a similar miracle to progress to the quarter-finals.
Undoubtedly the biggest threat to the Czech Republic topping the group will be Russia. The Russians made it to the semi-finals in 2008 so gaffer Dick Advocaat will expect nothing less than navigating the group stages, especially after his side topped their qualifying section.
The Republic should expect 2nd place at the very least, then, particularly with a striker as proven as Baros on the international stage – he has 40 goals from 87 caps – while younger strike-partner Tomas Pekhart will hope to take his scoring record of 17 in 26 under-21 games to the next level.
All this makes a bet on Group A to finish with Russia in first, Czech Republic in second, Greece in third and Poland fourth, at 13/1, a punt to consider.
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