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Czech tick all boxes on checklist

After the loss to Russia, Petr Čech told UEFA.com: “We have lost the battle, not the war.” They were words aimed at both his team-mates and fans to calm down emotions in the wake of a heavy 4-1 setback, and a checklist of things that needed repairing was soon announced.

It seemed that Michal Bílek’s men simply could not wait to start fixing what was wrong. Up against Greece in Wroclaw yesterday, they scored two goals within the first six minutes after unstoppable runs into the Greek defence, while solid defending served them well at the back.

The Czech Republic got it right against Greece©Getty Images

The Czech Republic got it right against Greece

The Czechs clearly wished to reawaken the spirit they had shown in qualifying, and they managed that as well. Both scorers, Petr Jiráček and Václav Pilař, notched their maiden international goals in the play-off tie with Montenegro when their team was under pressure – and both of them scored again in Wroclaw. Unlike his “useless” goal against Russia, this time Pilař’s strike did serve a purpose as it turned out to be the winner.

Even if it was not mentioned explicitly, Tomáš Rosický, Čech and Milan Baroš also wanted to put a plaster on the scar of the bitter UEFA EURO 2004 semi-final defeat they suffered against Greece. “I did not think about it, but I still take it as a small satisfaction,” Rosický told UEFA.com. “It was good that we did not panic and kept to our system of play.”

Meanwhile, the improved defence survived a test in the second half when the Greeks were pushing to score an equaliser. “All in all, we did not allow them a clear chance,” Tomáš Hübschman told me.

Every victory in the battlefield brings losses, though. Bílek had to substitute Rosický at half-time, and the playmaker later said that he had not been able to play at full tilt from as early as the 20th minute. The captain started receiving treatment on his Achilles tendon immediately after being taken off, in fact. Bílek described the Arsenal FC man as “our key player” in his post-match press conference, and he will be hoping desperately that he can call upon his skipper come Saturday’s decisive meeting with Poland.

Another important figure in that encounter will be Čech. His error on Tuesday, similar in nature to the one that led to the Czechs being knocked out of UEFA EURO 2008, was starkly out of character. He will know that another such slip cannot be allowed against the co-hosts.

Source Article from http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/blogs/blog=blog_czech_republic_team/postid=1804157.html?rss=1804157+Czech+tick+all+boxes+on+checklist

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