Improvement needed from Czechs

The Czech Republic will have to improve on their performances if they are to have any chance of making an impact at next summer's European Championships.

Football News: Czech Republic

Granted, the Czechs always knew they had to qualify through the playoffs, having been drawn in the same group as reigning world and European champions Spain.

However, the fact that they struggled for much of their group campaign, and were nearly pipped to second spot by Scotland, suggests that much improvement is needed if they want to avoid an early exit in Poland and Ukraine next June.

Czech Republic

World ranking (as of November 2011): 47
Coach: Michael Bilek

Bilek will be the first coach since Karel Bruckner to lead the Czechs at a major international tournament, following disastrous qualification campaigns for Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

However, despite spells in charge of Czech giants Viktoria Plzen and Sparta Prague, the jury is still out on whether Bilek has what it takes to succeed on the international stage.

Can they win it?

Based on recent form, the Czech Republic are going to struggle to make it to the knockout stages of Euro 2012.

They finished second in Group I during qualifying, two points ahead of third-placed Scotland, but were unconvincing against minnows Liechtenstein and Lithuania, even losing to the latter in their opening qualifier at home.

The current squad is a shadow of the side that was once regarded as one of Europe's best, with Petr Cech the only real world-class player amongst their ranks. How Czech fans must be wishing the likes of Pavel Nedved, Vladimir Smicer and Patrik Berger were still taking to the field!

In defence, much will depend on Tomas Sivok and Michal Kadlec to hold the fort, while in midfield, Tomas Rosicky's international form has mirrored his performances for Arsenal - inconsistent at best.

And looking at the strikers at Bilek's disposal, it is hard to see the Czechs posing a serious threat to their prospective opponents. Milan Baros and David Lafata, both 30, have never truly established themselves on the big stage, while Nuremberg's Tomas Pekhart is still inexperienced.

It leaves Bilek with 22-year-old Tomas Necid as his only real dangerman, but the CSKA Moscow man has shown glimpses of talent to suggest he could develop into a quality striker. With 25 caps already to his name, now could just be the time to throw Necid into the deep end, and see if he has the mentality to handle the pressure.

Best performance at European Championships: Runners-up (1996)

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