Saturday, July 24, 2021

Scotland v Czech Republic: Clarke and Silhavy gear up for first major tournament meeting

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Jun 2021

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Scotland are this year making their first appearance in a European Championship since 1996, but they face one of the tournament’s staple sides in the Czech Republic.

While the Czechs are not the force they once were during the mid-2000s, they are taking part in their 10th Euro (Czechoslovakia included), including their seventh in a row – an uninterrupted streak since 1996.

Only Germany (13) and France (eight) are currently on longer such runs, but, surprisingly, Scotland and the Czech Republic have never met in a major tournament.

The omens are good for Steve Clarke’s team, however, as Scotland have won each of their last three matches against the Czech Republic, their longest current winning run against any of the other 23 nations qualified for Euro 2020.

Featuring in Group D alongside England and Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic may be the most likely teams to be fighting it out for third place.

Clarke is anticipating a tough test, with the Czech Republic possessing some quality players such as Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick and West Ham duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek.

“The Czech Republic give us different problems to England and Croatia, so that can have a bearing on selection, but I am pretty settled [on the team],” he said.

“The good thing for me is that no matter who I select, I expect them all to be fantastic for their country. As a manager or a coach, that’s a big thing that you can trust all your players.”

“In our last away game against Scotland, we had many opportunities that we didn’t take, and the opponent punished us with a single goal,” Clarke’s counterpart Jaroslav Silhavy said. 

“I think it may be third time lucky. We will get there.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Scotland – John McGinn

Including the play-offs, Aston Villa midfielder McGinn was directly involved in over half of Scotland’s goals in Euro 2020 qualifying, scoring seven and assisting two of the Tartan Army’s 17 strikes. He has enjoyed another fine season in the Premier League, and will be out to prove himself on the biggest stage.

Czech Republic – Tomas Soucek

The Czech Republic scored 54 per cent of their goals in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign from set-pieces (seven out of 13), the joint-highest ratio (including penalties) of any side to qualify for the tournament (level with Hungary). West Ham star Soucek is a real set-piece threat, having netted three headers in the league in 2020-21, while four of his 10 goals came from set-pieces.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Scotland have failed to score in four of their six previous European Championship matches, though they have also kept a clean sheet in three of their six games in the competition.

– Since the Czech Republic reached the European Championship final in 1996 (1-2 vs Germany), they have been knocked out in the group stages in four of their six appearances at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros).

– This will be Scotland’s 11th appearance at a major tournament (World Cup and Euros), including their first Euro participation since 1996. They have never progressed past the group stages in any of their previous 10.

– Scotland became the first team to qualify for the European Championships despite losing as many as five games in their qualifying group. They were also the only team in the qualifiers to register a negative goal difference (-3) among the 24 nations to have reached the finals (including play-off games).

– The Czech Republic have lost six of their last nine games at the European Championship (W2 D1), as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 22 such fixtures beforehand. They have also only drawn one of their last 19 games at the tournament, a 2-2 stalemate against Croatia in the 2016 group stages (W8 L10).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

Soccernews.com is news blog for soccer with comprehensive coverage of all the major leagues in Europe, as well as MLS in the United States. In addition we offer breaking news for transfers and transfer rumors, ticket sales, betting tips and offers, match previews, and in-depth editorials.

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