England round off Group D against the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening.
Ahead of the Wembley showdown, the PA news agency takes a look at the pool-topping Czechs.
The Czechs booked their spot at the finals by finishing runners-up to England in their qualifying group. Jaroslav Silhavy’s side were beaten 5-0 at Wembley but made amends in Prague, where they ended the Three Lions’ 43-match unbeaten run in Euro and World Cup qualifying matches stretching back to a 1-0 loss in Ukraine in October 2009. Harry Kane’s early spot-kick had put England in the box seat, only for Jakub Brabec to quickly level and provide the platform for substitute Zdenek Ondrasek to punish a ponderous performance and seal a shock 2-1 win in that October 2019 encounter. Their form after qualifying was patchy, but there was an encouraging draw at home to Belgium – the world’s top ranked side – in March’s World Cup qualifier. The Czechs were hammered 4-0 by Italy in a warm-up friendly, but Patrik Schick inspired them to a 2-0 win in their Group D opener at Scotland before drawing 1-1 with Croatia at Hampden Park to leave them top of the pool.
Silhavy was given the task of getting the team back on track after their failure to reach the 2018 World Cup. Before being appointed to coach the national team, the former Czechoslovakia defender was twice a winner of the Czech title as a boss with Slovan Liberec and Slavia Prague.
Czech Republic head coach Silhavy has created an organised, well-drilled side that can be a problem for anyone on their day. The Czechs’ 4-2-3-1 formation, which includes Sevilla’s Tomas Vaclik between the sticks, provides a solid base from which to build. Towering West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek offers physicality and skill in the middle of the park, with Vladimir Darida of Hertha Berlin skippering the side and offering creativity in the number 10 role behind Bayer Leverkusen sharpshooter Schick.
Slavia Prague’s surprise run to this season’s Europa League quarter-finals highlights some of the quality at the disposal of a country that boasts the impressive West Ham duo of Soucek and Vladimir Coufal. Burnley’s Matej Vydra is an attacking option for a side that can call upon in-form frontman Schick, who has scored three goals in their two Group D matches to date. The Leverkusen striker’s stunning effort from just inside the Scotland half at Hampden Park may well prove to be the goal of the tournament.