Czech Republic vs Scotland Preview
Scotland will face off against the Czech Republic for the second time this year. Back in March, a Scott Brown goal handed Scotland a 1-0 victory in a friendly played at Hampden Park. This time, the Tartan Army make a tougher trip to Prague but will be seeking a similar result.
Slow Start From the Czech's
The Czech Republic will face pressure to win this fixture after starting their qualifying in disappointing fashion. The Czech’s opened up group play with a home fixture against Lithuania, but went down to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of a Darvydas Sernas header. Milan Baros failed to convert a penalty for the Czech Republic during the game.
Striker Milan Baros will miss the game for the Czech’s, teenage striker Vaclav Kadlec has been called up as replacement and will hope to receive his international debut against the Scot’s.
With Spain also competing in Group I, the Czech Republic will be going all out for a win, as falling behind Scotland could be devastating to their hopes of Euro 2012 qualification. Speaking after the Lithuania disappointment, Czech midfielder Jaroslav Plasil told the UEFA website how important this fixture will be.
“We’ve dropped three points at home right from the off and it’s really infuriating. There are seven matches left, but we have to bounce back straight away in the next game against Scotland.”
Czech coach Michal Bilek is expecting a physical game, describing Scotland’s style of play as “unpleasant” when he was interviewed by the BBC website this week. “They are pretty aggressive and fight for every inch of the pitch” said Bilek
Scotland Looking to Dent Czech Hopes
Scotland have been inconsistent to open qualification, but have achieved positive results. Their Group I campaign opened with a 0-0 tie in Lithuania, before they struggled to a 2-1 home win over lowly Liechtenstein.
Scotland were widely criticized for their performance against Liechtenstein, but Craig Levein will hope the nature of the victory will galvanize the confidence of his troops. Scotland were 1-0 down but red hot Rangers forward Kenny Miller leveled to set up a grandstand finish. Seven minutes into injury time, Middlesbrough player Barry Robson swung over a corner for club mate Stephen McManus to head home for a dramatic winner.
The win sees Scotland adopt a position as early Group I leaders, and a result here will give them prime position above the Czech Republic going forward. With Spain also competing, the Tartan Army could well find themselves competing with Lithuania and the Czech’s for a Euro 2012 qualifying spot.
In an interview this week with the BBC website, Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher hinted Scotland may set out to pack the midfield and frustrate the Czech’s, knowing a point will keep the pressure on their opponents In the long run.
“We would obviously love to win the game but if we can get any sort of result it would be a positive in terms of qualifying,” said Fletcher. “We want to win but I think being difficult to beat is sometimes just as important.”
Scotland will give late fitness tests to Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, Steven Whittaker and Gary Caldwell before naming their team.
Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic) – Scotland are very likely to pack 3 men in central midfield and look to disjoint Czech possession. Scottish players will tackle feverishly and look to block passing lanes forward. A creative player like Rosicky will be key to the Czech’s ability to break down the Scottish resistance and spread the play.
Kenny Miller (Scotland) – The game plan of Scotland is to stifle possession and hit the Czech Republic on the break, very likely with a lone forward. Miller is in red hot form for Glasgow Rangers, having netted 10 goals already this season. He will not get many chances, but if he finishes the ones he does get, he will drive a dagger into the qualification hopes of the Czech Republic.