Russia and the Czech Republic will face each other in a Euro Cup Group A battle in Wroclaw, Poland on June 8 as the second Euro match after the opener with Poland and Greece. This is an important match for both teams as they’re the favourites with most experts to top the group which also features co-hosts Poland and the 2004 European Championship winners Greece.
Manager Dick Advocaat has a talented squad to choose from and will be hoping his players can keep up their good form of late. Russia has played well under their Dutch manager since he took over the team and this was shown in their qualifying campaign where they won seven out of their 10 matches and won their group.
The Russians have been playing well at both ends of the pitch recently with three wins and two draws in their past five games and have some world-class players in Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin. Both of these players have been playing in the Russian league and that may help when it comes to team unity and tactics.
The Czechs to rely on Rosicky and Cech
The Czech Republic had to go to the playoffs to reach Euro 2012 after finishing second in their qualifying group behind Spain. However, they didn’t have much problem once they got there and easily defeated Montenegro 3-0 on aggregate over two legs. Their captain Tomas Rosicky enjoyed a good season with Arsenal of the English Premier League and has signed a contract extension with the London-based club.
Manager Michael Bilek is banking that Rosicky will continue his excellent form once the Euros begin. The Czechs are also strong in net with Chelsea’s Petr Cech between the posts. While Chelsea didn’t play up to par this season, Cech was outstanding in their European Champions League victory over Barcelona and also in the final against Bayern.
The Czech Republic also still depend on striker Milan Baros to spearhead their attack. And while Baros used to be one of the top scorers in the world, he’s aged since then. However, the former Liverpool striker has still managed to score 40 goals for his country in 86 games.
Russia’s last game took place in February and they played well in a 2-0 win in Denmark. The Czech Republic’s last outing was a 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland and they have three wins, a draw and a loss in their past five matches. A couple of months after Russia’s game with Denmark, Advocaat announced that he’ll be leaving the team when Euro 2012 is over. This announcement could have a negative affect on the players, but the 64-year-old manager said he doesn’t think it will affect their performances at all.
Predictions – Russia to win a tight game
This should be a close and exciting game since both teams have the ability to be among the best in the world when they play up to their potential. The Czech Republic probably has the edge in goal, but Russia has more scoring power so they balance each other out. A draw is certainly possible, but look for the Russians to pull this one out and take all three points in a close contest.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of a Russia win posted at 21/10 with a Czech Republic victory also at 21/20 and a draw at 11/5.
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