It’s now down to just four teams at Euro 2020 and, unfortunately, the Czech Republic are not one of them. Jaroslav Silhavy’s side have been impressive in the tournament so far, but they were beaten by Denmark in the quarter-final on Saturday afternoon.
For a team that has thrilled their fans with attacking football throughout the tournament, the Czechs stuck to the same style of play when they faced the Danes. They pressed and dominated possession, but they weren’t clinical enough, as their opponents ran out 2-1 winners to advance to the last four.
The Czechs pay for slow start
Silhavy’s team have built a reputation of starting matches on the front foot. They beat Scotland 2-0, held Croatia to a 1-1 draw and defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the Round of 16.
In all these matches, the Czech Republic started on the ascendency and also scored first. However, they made a slow start against Denmark in the quarter-final and were made to pay for that.
Five minutes into the game, the Czechs’ defence went to sleep, allowing Thomas Delaney to rise unchallenged to head home the opener from a corner.
Kasper Dolberg made it 2-0 three minutes before half time, ending any chance of a comeback. While Patrik Schick reduced the deficit early in the second half, it was a little too late, as the Czech Republic's slow start ultimately proved costly.
Czech Republic announce themselves in style
The Czechs used to be one of the best national football teams in the mid-2000s. Before the 2006 FIFA World Cup, they were even ranked no. 2 in the world.
However, they’ve been on the peripheries of international football for more than a decade now. Their performance at Euro 2020, though, is a timely reminder of how good a football nation they are.
"We were 2-0 down after the first half and had to do something with it, so we added another forward and played 4-4-2. We pushed the Danes and scored,” Jaroslav Silhavy said after the game, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“But with the passing of time, we did not have enough power to score the equaliser. We are grateful to all our players for the performances they have shown during the tournament. They were disappointed; I even saw tears in their eyes. But we were close to achieving tremendous success, and reaching the quarter-finals is a great achievement for the whole of Czech football."
The Czech Republic are back, and with players like Vladimir Coufal, Tomas Soucek and Schick, they can only hope to get better in subsequent tournaments.