Euro 2008

The editor of Prague TV's Czech Football Daily weblog looks forward to the European championship

Football, television and beer form an ever-closer union in June, when Czech fans cheer on the national team at Euro 2008.

Although Austria and Switzerland are co-hosting the tournament, events south of the border will have a big impact on life here in Prague.

Giant TV screens on Old Town Square will show every Euro 2008 game live, for instance, while a program of supporting events, including five-a-side games, will be held at the Můstek end of Wenceslas Square.

Many bars and restaurants in Prague that don't usually show football will also bring in temporary screens to show televised games.

If the Czech Republic do well, expect a party atmosphere in Prague.

But that's a big "if".

Can the Czechs win?

Beginning with Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, the national team, under white-haired coach Karel Brückner, have qualified for football's last three major international tournaments.

But despite topping their Euro 2008 qualifying group, ahead of Germany, there are some serious causes for concern heading into the tournament.

Most importantly, the Czechs will be without injured playmaker Tomáš Rosický, the national team's captain and most creative player.

Hopes that 35-year-old Pavel Nedvěd would end his retirement from international football and come back to help the national team appear to have come to nothing.

Brückner could also be without left-sided wingback Marek Jankulovski, who has struggled with a knee injury this season.

Given these problems, the Czechs will be more reliant than ever on goalkeeper Petr Čech -- arguably the team's only world-class player at the tournament.

Even without Jankulovski, the defence, featuring Zdeněk Grygera, Tomáš Ujfaluši, David Rozehnal, and possibly Radoslav Kováč, will be reasonably solid.

It's in midfield where the problems begin, however.

Veteran defensive midfielder Tomáš Galásek is reliable, and Jan Polák will work tirelessly, but Brückner will sorely miss Rosický's flair unless Libor Sionko and Jaroslav Plašil have the tournament of their lives.

Up front, there are just as many questions.

Milan Baroš hasn't scored for the national team in over a year while giant striker Jan Koller has had a difficult season with his German club side.

As alternatives, Martin Fenin was one of the stars of last summer's Under-20 World Cup while Václav Svěrkoš, one of the squad's few Czech-based players, has been in excellent form for Baník Ostrava.

One other ray of hope is that Czech teams tend to do better when expectations are lowered.

Ultimately, however, it's hard to be too optimistic and I'm predicting a quarterfinal exit at best.

CZECH SQUAD
Goalkeepers
Petr Čech (Chelsea, England)
Jaromír Blažek (1. FC Nürnberg, Germany)
Daniel Zítka (Anderlecht, Belgium)

Defenders
Zdeněk Grygera (Juventus, Italy)
Marek Jankulovski (AC Milan, Italy)
Michal Kadlec (Sparta Praha)
Radoslav Kováč (Spartak Moskva, Russia)
Zdeněk Pospěch (FC Kobenhavn, Denmark)
David Rozehnal (Lazio, Italy)
Tomáš Sivok (Sparta Praha)
Tomáš Ujfaluši (Fiorentina, Italy)

Midfielders
Tomáš Galásek (1. FC Nürnberg, Germany)
David Jarolím (Hamburg, Germany)
Marek Matějovský (Reading, England)
Jaroslav Plašil (Osasuna, Spain)
Jan Polák (1. FC Nürnberg, Germany)
Libor Sionko (FC Kobenhavn, Denmark)
Rudolf Skácel (Hertha Berlin, Germany)
Stanislav Vlček (Anderlecht, Belgium)

Forwards
Milan Baroš (Portsmouth, England)
Martin Fenin (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany)
Jan Koller (Nürnberg, Germany)
Václav Svěrkoš (Baník Ostrava) 

EURO 2008 DRAW
Group A

Switzerland
Czech Republic
Portugal
Turkey

Group B
Austria
Croatia
Germany
Poland

Group C
Netherlands
Italy
Romania
France

Group D
Greece
Sweden
Spain
Russia

SCHEDULE
Czech Group Games
Saturday, June 7th at 6pm
Czech Republic vs. Switzerland
Venue: St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Wednesday, June 11th at 6pm
Czech Republic vs. Portugal
Venue: Stade de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Sunday, June 15th at 8:45pm
Czech Republic vs. Turkey
Venue: Stade de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Playoff Stage
Thursday, June 19th at 8:45pm
Quarterfinal 1: Winner Group A vs. Runner-Up Group B
Venue: St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Friday, June 20th at 8:45pm
Quarterfinal 2: Winner Group B vs. Runner-Up Group C
Venue: Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Saturday, June 21st at 8:45pm
Quarterfinal 3: Winner Group C vs. Runner-Up Group D
Venue: St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Sunday, June 22nd at 8:45pm
Quarterfinal 4: Winner Group D vs. Runner-Up Group C
Venue: Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Wednesday, June 25th at 8:45pm
Semifinal 1: Winner Quarterfinal 1 vs. Winner Quarterfinal 2
Venue: St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Thursday, June 26th at 8:45pm
Semifinal 2: Winner Quarterfinal 3 vs. Winner Quarterfinal 4
Venue: Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

Sunday, June 29th at 8:45pm
Final: Winner Semifinal 1 vs. Winner Semifinal 2
Venue: Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria
Czech TV Coverage: Live on Prima

RELATED WEBSITES
Euro2008.com -- Official tournament website
Fotbal.cz -- Official ČMFS (Czech football association) website
Czech Football Daily -- Prague TV's soccer weblog

Video on YouTube

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