The Czech Republic’s preparations for Euro 2012 had been going smoothly, winning four matches out of five in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
That was before last week’s friendly defeat to Hungary put a dampener on coach Michal Bilek’s high expectations for the summer campaign in Poland and Ukraine.
Drawn In a relatively easy group, there is still hope for the Czechs and several cracking punts on them can be made with the free £25 bet on offer for registering with bwin.
Having been following the Czechs’ build-up to the tournament very closely, I will now share my three favourite selections with you.
Russia 1st, Czech Rep 2nd in Group A (@ 7/1, free £25 bet wins £200)
Russia are favourites to win Group A after 14 consecutive unbeaten matches, the most recent of which being a mightily impressive 3-0 win over Italy.
Add to that the fact that they haven’t conceded in six out of their last seven games and it’s easy to see why they are a shoo-in for first place in a relatively uncompetitive group containing Poland, Greece and the Czechs.
If the Russians do win the group, Czech Republic should fancy second place over co-hosts Poland, who have never made the knockout stages, and Greece, who lost every game at the 2008 tournament after their 2004 triumph.
The Republic have followed a bit of a hot and cold pattern at European Championships. Since their formation, they have reached the final, then gone out in the groups, then reached the semi-finals, before falling at the group stage again in 2008. If that pattern continues, expect them to escape the groups in 2012.
And at 7/1, bwin.com has the best odds available of the 21 major bookmakers for this bet – what more reason do you need to back it with us?
Michal Kadlec to be top Czech Republic scorer (@ 8/1, free £25 bet wins £225)
Kadlec’s four goals in qualifying made him the Czech Republic’s top scorer in reaching this summer’s championships. And the reason that his odds to be top scorer for his nation at the finals are 8/1? Because he is a left-back!
The Bayer Leverkusen defender scored the only goal for the Czechs in their friendly defeat to Hungary last Friday in his usual fashion: from the penalty spot.
As the Republic’s penalty taker, the defender could be a great punt given that the Czechs have scored six goals from the spot in the last year – more than a third of their total in that time.
Kadlec has proved he can score from open play as well, as he did with a header against European giants Barcelona in last season’s Champions League.
He’s a slight outsider, for sure, but backing Kadlec to come up trumps could pay off in spectacular fashion.
Czech Republic to be involved in a shoot-out (@ 10/1, free £25 bet wins £275)
Assuming that the Czechs get to the knockout stages, history suggests they could be taken to a penalty shoot-out.
Of the five knockout matches that the Republic have played in European Championships, three have gone beyond the 90 minutes. As Chelsea and Bayern Munich players well know, that means penalties could be on the cards.
Only one of those three extra-time matches actually made it to penalties, but with the Czechs likely to play Holland or Germany in the quarter-finals, it would make sense for the Republic to play backs-to-the-wall football and try to hold on for spot-kicks if they make past the 90 minutes.
And the one time they did go to penalties? They won against France in their eventual run to the final back at Euro 96.
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