Ghana Chances Of Qualifying To The World Cup World Cup 2006 Preview – Czech Republic

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World Cup 2006 Preview – Czech Republic

Odds to exit: 33/1

Group E winners: 9/4

The Czech Republic may be recognized by FIFA as the second best team in the world behind Brazil and the best in Europe, but they have put in a lot of work to qualify for the finals. Facing Holland in the qualifiers, they lost home and away and were also defeated in Romania to finish second in the group. They won 1-0 home and away against Norway in the play-off to secure their place in Germany.

Despite a nervy qualification, expectations are high this time around for the Czechs’ first finals appearance since entering as Czechoslovakia in 1990. The team has not been relegated from FIFA’s top six since 2004 and can no longer be called underdogs or underdogs. Under their old guise they finished second twice in 1934 and 1962 and this time they have the opportunity to go one better.

It’s now or never for many of the current squad, as forwards Tomasz Halosek, Karel Paborski, Jan Koller and Pawel Nedved have all retired, all entering the veteran phase of their careers. All made their mark a decade ago when the Czech Republic surprised everyone by reaching the final of Euro 96 and beating eventual winners Germany in extra time.

Under manager Karel Bruckner, who took over in 2001 after a successful spell as under-21 coach, the Czechs could be a real force to be reckoned with. No one has scored more goals in a European qualifying campaign than Bruckner’s side, and that’s no surprise given his tactics.

The Czechs play cavalier attacking football that can take your breath away. Who can forget their Euro 2004 classic against Holland, in which they went from 2-0 down to win the match 3-2?

With Nedved, Halosek, Paborski and Tomas Rosicky, the Czechs boast one of the most creative midfields in international football. Jan Koller scored nine times in qualifying to take his tally to 40 goals in 66 appearances, but he is in danger of missing the final after injuring his cruciate ligament in September 2005.

While the Czechs are unstoppable in attack, they are no match in defence. Full-backs Marek Jankulovski and Zdenek Grigera offer great attacking support from the back but are prone to being caught out. But given their overall ability, they are worth a shout to win the tournament with great odds.

Recommended rate:

At odds of over 2/1, the Czechs offer much better value than Italy to win the group given their attacking potential. According to FIFA, the Czechs are in the lead in Europe, but the bookies do not rate their chances given the odds on offer. At 33/1, the Czechs offer a good chance to win the tournament.

Czech Republic to win Group E @ 9/4

E/W Czech Republic to win World Cup @ 33/1

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