10 Oct The lowdown on Czech Republic ahead of England clash
England can seal Euro 2020 qualification in the Czech Republic on Friday night.
Ahead of the Group A clash in Prague, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the hosts.
Once contenders for major international honours, the Czech Republic now sit 44th in the FIFA world rankings, between Costa Rica and Australia. Champions of Europe in 1976 and semi-finalists as recently as 2004, the side were second seeds for the Euro 2020 qualification draw after finishing second in their Nations League group. England hammered the Czechs 5-0 in March’s group opener, but Jaroslav Silhavy’s side have rallied since that loss and a 3-1 friendly defeat to Brazil days later. June’s home victories against Bulgaria and Montenegro were followed by a loss to Kosovo and a win in Montenegro last month, leaving them second in Group A.
Silhavy has been Czech Republic head coach since September 2018, when he replaced former Slavia Prague team-mate Karel Jarolim. The 57-year-old was a defender in his day and won four caps for Czechoslovakia before going on to take his first step into coaching with Kladno in 2007. Silhavy spent time with Viktoria Plzen and Ceske Budejovice before getting his hand on silverware for the first time when leading Slovan Liberec to the Czech title in 2011-12. Named coached of the year for that feat, he went on to have spells at Jablonec and Dukla Prague before leading Slavia to the 2016-17 title, having overseen a 26-match unbeaten league run.
Friday’s match will be held at the Sinobo Stadium, which is hosting Champions League football this season thanks to Slavia Prague. The 19,370-seater stadium was opened in 2008 and hosted the 2013 UEFA Super Cup between Bayern Munich and Chelsea, as well as the 2015 Under-21 European Championship final won by Sweden against favourites Portugal.
While no longer boasting the stars of the recent past, there are a number of talented players and recognisable names in the squad. Highly-rated striker Patrik Schick joined RB Leipzig on loan from Roma in the summer and is arguably the most recognisable name given Silhavy has no English-based players in the squad. Frontman Matej Vydra, who has spent spells with numerous English clubs since arriving in the UK in 2012, is absent as he struggles for game time at Burnley, while Bristol City defender Tomas Kalas is recovering from a hamstring issue. There is a strong Slavia Prague presence in the squad.