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Euro 2016 profile: Czech Republic cannot be counted out in competitive pool

The Czech Republic have a rich history at European Championships, but how will their current crop led by Petr Cech fare in France?

We’re profiling all 24 teams that will be competing in France, so punters will have an expert view as Europe’s finest compete this summer.

This time we focus on the Czech Republic, who are making their sixth Euro appearance since 1996.

The Czech’s now face a Group D comprised of defending champions Spain, Turkey and Croatia with Sky Bet having them at a superb best price of 7/2 to finish second and thus qualify for the knockout phase.

History at the Euros: Czechoslovakia won the competition in 1976 before its dissolution, beating then holders West Germany in the final; a campaign that featured won of the coolest penalties ever taken by Antonin Panenka.

The Czechs were famously finalists in Euro ’96; however, this time the Germans came out on top. Karel Brucker’s men were flying in 2004, winning every one of their three group games and thrashing Denmark in the quarter-final, but had their wings clipped by eventual shock winners Greece in the semis.

Mind-boggling when you think how many modern greats were in that side: Karel Poborsky, Pavel Nedved, Jan Koller and Milan Baros spring to mine. This current Czech Republic team hold top odds of 4/1 also with Sky Bet to make the quarter-finals.

Head coach: Pavel Vrba’s team qualified for the 2016 tournament top of their group prioritising fast, fluent attacking football. However, Petr Cech did not manage any clean sheets, highlighting their defensive vulnerability.

The coach emphasises all-out attack and entertainment. Vrba is also loved by the public for his humour. During his time at Viktoria Plzen, he won the club’s first-ever league titles.

Key player: Seven-time Czech Footballer of the Year Petr Cech will be key in France.

Protected by a seasoned defence, the Premier League’s record clean sheet holder is vital to stopping any chances that may occur as a result of Vrba’s men bombing forward.

There have been visible signs of slight decline at Arsenal, but the keeper remains one of the league’s best and, barring injury, will break Poborsky’s caps record.

Rising star: Hoffenheim’s Pavel Kaderabek is an intriguing prospect. The player predominately plays as a flying full back, but can also operate anywhere down the right side.

He’s strong in the air and athletically superior to most players that face off against him. Since moving to Germany last summer, Kaderabek has impressed and should be one of the first names on Vrba’s team sheet.

Wildcard: Sparta Prague’s 34-year-old veteran forward David Lafata could be one to watch, after enjoying a renaissance in the Czech capital club’s run to the Europa League quarter-finals.

Unlikely to be the nation’s first-choice striker, with that responsibly falling to prolific Tomas Necid, Lafata is a reliable, experienced alternative that can score goals and has eight in 37 caps for his country.

Confirmed Czech Republic Euro 2016 fixtures:
All kick-offs are British Summer time (BST)
Monday, June 13th: Spain v Czech Republic (14:00); Stadium Municipal, Toulouse, ITV
Friday, June 17th: Czech Republic v Croatia (17:00); Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne, BBC
Tuesday, June 21st: Czech Republic v Turkey (20:00); Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens, ITV​

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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