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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Czech Republic team guide

A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Czech Republic ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Fixtures (Group E):

  • v USA - 12 June, 1700 BST, Gelsenkirchen
  • v Ghana - 17 June, 2000 BST, Cologne
  • v Italy - 22 June, 1500 BST, Hamburg

    How did they get to Germany: The hard way. They finished second best to Holland in a tough qualifying group that also consisted of Romania, before emerging as 2-0 play-off winners over Norway.

    Qualifying star: Tomas Rosicky, who is nicknamed dumpling after his favourite food. Played through the pain barrier in the play-off final against Norway and was rewarded with the winning goal - one of six in the camapign.

    Manager: Karel Bruckner. Took charge in 2001 after a successful spell as Under-21 coach, he is like a father figure to the current crop of players who he helped bring through.

    Thomas Galasek

    Captain: Ajax's Tomas Galasek. The 33-year-old is a rock at the heart of the Czech midfield, allowing those around him to get forward.

    World Cup pedigree: They last qualified as Czechoslovakia in 1990 when they made the quarter-finals. They have twice finished runners-up (1934 and 1962).

    World Cup high: In 1962 the Czechs were drawn in a tough group with Brazil, Spain and Mexico. They managed a draw against Brazil and qualified in second place. They then saw off Hungary and Yugoslavia on their way to the final, before losing to Brazil in the final.

    World Cup low: In 1958 a talented Czech side recorded a 6-1 win over Argentina and drew with Germany but went out of the competition in a play-off to Northern Ireland.

    World Cup legend: Midfielder Josef Masopust was the Czechs' star man in 1962 when they surprisingly made it to the final. The talented midfielder was named European player of the year in 1962.

    Pavel Nedved

    Present star man: Pavel Nedved came out of retirement to help them qualify and the country is hopeful the all-action Juventus playmaker can inspire them to success in Germany.

    Strengths: In the likes of Nedved, Jan Koller, Karel Poborsky, Milan Baros, Petr Cech and Rosicky they have enough talent to cause problems for anybody. Nobody scored more goals than the Czechs in European qualifying.

    Weaknesses: Struggle for consistency. At both Euro 2004 and in qualifying for Germany they looked unbeatable, but at other times they fail to sparkle.

    Did you know? The Czechs have led in the two World Cup finals they have been in, only to finish on the losing side both times.

    World ranking: 2

    Odds: 25/1

    Local view: "Czech teams have always preferred to be underdogs. This time it's different, we now have the best football generation ever. Bruckner is strong enough to do something big. You can't pretend the number two in the Fifa world ranking is not a co-favourite for the next World Cup," Petr Nosalek, Czech journalist.

    Our verdict: With their talent they could beat anybody, but can they cope with such high expectations?

    Ranking and odds correct at 22 May. Odds supplied by William Hill.



  • 2006 WORLD CUP TEAM GUIDES
     

    SEE ALSO
    Pick your Czech Republic XI
    31 May 06 |  Squad selectors
    Country profile: Czech Republic
    14 Sep 05 |  Country profiles


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