Czech Republic vs Scotland Match Preview
Monday 7th September 19:45 BST Andrův stadion, Olomouc #CZESCO
A lot has happened since the Nations League draw took place at the start of March, in fact a lot has changed since full time of the Israel game on Friday night. The world is a completely different place and the impact on football pales into insignificance compared to the terrible loss of life, pain and sadness the Coronavirus pandemic has brought. ATAC sends love and support to everyone that has been impacted across all walks of life.
The small hopes the Tartan Army had of attending and even travelling to the game have been well extinguished with UEFA deciding all games are behind closed doors and the government policy meaning anyone who travels will have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to Scotland. For this reason there is no ATAC Sporran Guide for this game but hope you find this match review interesting. We appreciate that there may still be a small number of supporters who will still travel and we wish you a safe journey and encourage you to take all the precautions necessary and follow all the rules that are in place.
The Nations League fixtures will be crucial in determining seeding for the World Cup qualifiers and does provide an outside chance of a play off for the winners of group B2. Scotland started with a 1-1 draw against Israel in a Euro 2020 play off dress rehearsal before heading to Olomouc to face the top seeded Czechs. After the disappointment of that draw Scotland have a massive opportunity to get back on track against a depleted Czech team. They picked up a big 3-1 away win against local rivals Slovakia on Friday but the shock news that the entire team and coaching staff have to quarantine for 14 days means they have had to start again. Slovakia travel to Israel hoping to get their campaign back on track.
The Czech Republic was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire when the Bohemia Football Association formed in 1901. They played as Bohemia 7 times. 6 against Hungary and once against England, the first a 2-1 loss in 1903. After World War 1 Czechoslovakia declared it’s independence and entered a football team in the 1920 Olympics in Belgium, they reached the final against the hosts but walked off in protest at 2-0 down and were subsequently disqualified so did not receive the silver medal. They also competed in the 1924 Olympics and the world cup finals of 1934 and 1938, losing in the final in 1934 to hosts Italy 2-1 after extra time. Although broken up by the 2nd world war it reformed as part of the Eastern Bloc and existed as a communist state until the Velvet Revolution in 1990.
Post war Czechoslovakia reached the World Cup finals a further 6 times, including the final in 1962 where they were beaten by Brazil in Chile. But the highlight would have been the final of the Euros in 1976, the game finished 2-2 after extra time and with the shoot out poised at 4-3 West Germany’s Uli Hoeness had the first penalty miss. Up stepped Antonin Panenka to score the most audacious penalty to beat the West Germans and win the trophy. Czechoslovakia reached the Euro finals twice more and on both occasions finished 3rd, in France in 1960 and Italy in 1980.
Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1st January 1993 in the middle of World Cup qualification. They completed the fixtures as the Representation of Czechs and Slovaks ending with a 0-0 draw away to Belgium in their last ever game, a win would have won a place at USA 1994. In their first tournament as the Czech Republic, Euro 96, they reached the final losing to Germany on a golden goal. Germany declined the invitation to the first official Confederations Cup in 1997 so the Czechs represented Europe and finished 3rd beating Uruguay 1-0 after losing to Brazil in the semi-final. They have only reached the World Cup finals once, in 2006 they beat USA 3-0 in their first game but were eliminated after successive 2-0 defeats to Ghana and Italy.
Euro 2020 will be their 7th straight finals since they started competing as the Czech Republic. They had to survive a scare in their penultimate qualifier against Kosovo last year. Kosovo led in Plzeň and would have went 2nd in Group A if they had held on but 2 late goals sent the Czechs to the finals. At the finals they have 2 matches scheduled at Hampden, potentially one against Scotland if we can qualify through the play offs. The last time the 2 countries met in competitive action (a qualifier for Euro 2012) ended in controversy, a last minute penalty for Michal Kadlec that looked like a blatant dive got the Czechs level at 2-2. Scotland went straight back up the other end and had a big shout for a penalty but Christophe Berra was booked for diving. That goal was ultimately the difference between second and third in the group and the Czechs would go on to qualify for the finals through the play offs.
This will be the 18th time Scotland have faced off with Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic and the 9th time away from home. Scotland have won away on two occasions, the first ever meeting between the sides (3-1 in May 1937) and the last meeting in 2016 when Ikeche Anya scored the only goal. In qualification for the 1962 World Cup the teams finished level on points in Group 8 and in those days that meant a play off in neutral territory. In November 1961 in Brussels Scotland were eliminated 4-2 after extra time despite Ian St John putting Scotland ahead twice. In 1972 Scotland and Czechoslovakia were both invited to play in the Brazil Independence Cup, marking 150 years of Brazilian Independence. They were both given a bye to Group A of the final stage where they met in Porto Alegre, a 0-0 draw was the outcome. Scotland drew 2-2 with Yugoslavia and finished with a narrow 1-0 loss to Brazil to be eliminated. Czechoslovakia drew 0-0 with Brazil but lost 2-1 to Yugoslavia so also failed to progress. Brazil beat Portugal in the final.
In the last Nations League the Czech Republic finished 2nd in group B1 finishing behind Ukraine who they lost to twice but ahead of Slovakia who they beat twice to be ranked 20th. They did not need the play off spot they earned as they qualified for the Euros direct finishing 2nd in group A behind England. They had lost their first game 5-0 at Wembley but recovered to inflict England’s first qualification defeat in 10 years. However they followed that with a defeat at home to Northern Ireland and also lost away to Kosovo and Bulgaria.
They have played 10 games at the Andrův stadion the home of SK Sigma Olomouc, winning 7 and losing 3. The last game they played there was a 3-0 victory over Montenegro in the European qualifiers in June last year, it is the first time Scotland will have played there as on previous occasions we have played in Prague or Bratislava. It is a huge game for Steve Clarke’s men after that draw on Friday and a big opportunity given the problems the Czechs have but it is no gimme and the team will need to step up a level. There are no easy games in international football and the 11 players that take the field for Czech Republic will have a fantastic opportunity to make a name for themselves with nothing to lose.
It will also be a very strange situation for the Tartan Army with many supporters missing their first away match in a long time, for some it will be decades. Football without fans is a different game but 3 points is still 3 points and results will have a huge bearing on the future of the national team and it is also the last chance for the manager to spend time with the squad ahead of the crucial play off next month. Fingers crossed there may be some supporters at Hampden for that game but there are no guarantees. Either way it is important the results are good so when the Tartan Army are back in their seats they will have crucial matches to roar the team on.