Czech Republic hosts the UEFA U21 European Championships
The 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship starts on Wednesday June 17th
There has barely been time for the dust to settle on the Champions League final, where Barcelona put Juventus to the sword in a 3-1 win, as UEFA promptly switches its attention towards the Czech capital and the showpiece tournament for the under 21’s.
Germany, Denmark, Serbia and Czech Republic are the contenders in Group A of the eight team tournament while Italy, England, Portugal and Sweden will be looking to plot their way through a treacherous looking Group B.
The action gets underway at 6pm on Wednesday 17th June when Jakub Dovalil’s young Czech stars entertain Denmark at the Eden Stadium in Prague, meanwhile, across the city at the home of Sparta Prague, Germany will kick off their campaign against Serbia at 845pm the same evening.
The Czech youngsters are considered outsiders for tournament success given the wealth of talent that will be lining up against them. Germany have the Champions League winning goalkeeper in between the sticks as well as Emre Can and Max Meyer making the trip to Prague.
England, meanwhile, can call upon Harry Kane, Danny Ings and Saido Berahino who have scored 46 Premier League goals between them this season – which is in stark contrast to the Czech side who will be missing one of their most potent strikers Matěj Vydra. The 23 year-old striker has been requested by his club side to skip the tournament in order to remain fresh for the season ahead.
Nevertheless, coach Jakub Dovalil has been able to call upon the more experienced players like Ladislav Krejčí and Václav Kadlec, who have already tasted international football, to give his squad a boost and a chance of reaching the latter stages.
Hosting the tournament, however, has been a double edged sword for the Czechs as it meant they qualified automatically for the finals without the need for competitive matches.
“Whoever has played any sport knows the difference between a friendly and a regular game. The Czech U21 has not played a competitive match for a very long time, so it is impossible to predict its strength,” Prague-based journalist Ondřej Zlámal told Prague.TV “I cannot estimate the teams abilities, they will be seen in the very first game. What I expect, though, is a very high motivation from all the players. It will be interesting to see how they will cope with all the pressure most of them have never faced.”
“I spoke to Václav Kadlec when I was preparing my article for the official match day programme. He was worried a bit that the pressure from the stands might turn into criticism very quickly. The Czech fans might be moody, they will expect a lot. This will be definitely a big obstacle and I fully agree with Kadlec.” he added.
It’s been a spectacular year of sport for the Czech Republic with the IIHF World Hockey Championships staged in the country, where a Jaromír Jágr inspired side almost made the bronze medal. While Lucie Šafářová defied expectations and made the French Open final and pushed Serena Williams to three hard sets earlier this month.
So the stage is now set for the young Czech football stars to make their mark. Whatever the result, though, Ondrej expects the Czech fans to embrace the tournament and make it a special occasion.
“It will be a great tournament. Czechs do love their football and you will see that and I am really looking forward to every game,” Ondrej said “If you want me to say more, I can´t wait to see the England side in action. So If the Czechs do not qualify from the group, I would like to see an England against Germany final.”
Tickets for the tournament have been hot property with all of the Czech Republic group matches sold out as well as tickets for the semifinals and final.
But fear not! You can still watch the action with our partner JJ Murphys at Malostranska in Prague 1 and enjoy special food and drink offers while the matches are being played. You can enjoy fish and chips during the England games, while there will be Hruškovice offers when the Czech Republic is in action and many more themed deals during the tournament.
You can also follow the Prague.TV twitter feed to catch live updates of the Czech Republic games as well as the semifinal and finals. For a full schedule of the games you can visit www.UEFA.com/under21
Selected Matches - Prague.TV twitter feed:
Weds 17 June - 6pm Czech Republic v Denmark Eden Stadium, Prague
Sat 20 June - 6pm Serbia v Czech Republic Letna Stadium, Prague
Tues 23 June - 8.45pm Czech Republic v Germany Eden Stadium , Prague
Sat 27 June - 6pm Winner B v Runner-up A Andruv Stadium Olomouc
Sat 27 June - 9pm Winner A v Runner-up B Letna Stadium, Prague
Tues 30 June- 8.45pm Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 Eden Stadium, Prague
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