The Czech Republic’s pedigree in the European Championships is unquestionable. Despite only competing as an independent national for a little over two decades they have managed to qualify for every single tournament. The former Czechoslovakia lifted the European title in 1976 after defeating West Germany on penalties in the famous game that spawned The Panenka.
How They Qualified: The Czechs topped group A winning 7 of their 10 games including both fixtures against Holland, sealing their place in the Finals with a 2-1 victory over Latvia in Riga. Losses at home to Group D rivals Turkey and away in Reykjavik to Iceland dampen confidence going into the tournament.
Tournament History: Runners-up 1996.
Coach: Pavel Vrba. After winning 2 league titles with Viktoria Plzen Vrba’s attacking style was drafted to the national team. On an impressive CV, Vrba’s titles with Viktoria were the clubs first in their 100-year history. He also won the Slovakian title with Zilina in 2007.
Nicknames: Národní tým (National side)
Key Man: Petr Cech.
The Arsenal stopper (above) has won the Czech footballer of the year award an astonishing eight times in the last 11 seasons. He is the all-time record holder for clean sheets in the English Premier League and has had plenty of practice behind a shaky Gunners defense this season. Just as well because he’ll need it this summer.
One To Watch: Ladislav Krejci.
The Sparta Prague left-winger gave Cesar Azpilicueta a torrid time when they met Chelsea in the Europa League. Years later his ability has developed in order to make telling contributions for both club and country. Sources suggest Newcastle once scouted the starlet but opted for Florian Thauvin. Like, why buy Zidane when you’ve got Tim Sherwood, right?
June 13, 9 a.m. vs. Spain
June 17, 12 p.m. vs. Croatia
June 21, 3 p.m. vs. Turkey
Goalkeepers: Petr Čech (Arsenal), Tomáš Vaclík (Basel), Tomáš Koubek (Sparta) Defenders: Pavel Kadeřábek (Hoffenheim), Theodor Gebre Selassie (Werder Bremen), Tomáš Sivok (Bursaspor), Michal Kadlec (Fenerbahce), Roman Hubník (Viktoria Plzeň), David Limberský (Viktoria Plzeň), Daniel Pudil (Sheffield Wednesday), Marek Suchý (Basel).
Midfielders: Vladimír Darida (Hertha Berlin), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux), David Pavelka (Kasimpasa), Jiří Skalák (Brighton), Ladislav Krejčí (Sparta), Bořek Dočkal (Sparta) Josef Šural (Sparta), Tomáš Rosický (Arsenal), Daniel Kolář (Viktoria Plzeň).
Strikers: Tomáš Necid (Bursaspor), David Lafata (Sparta), Milan Škoda (Slavia).