When the Czech Republic first take to the field against Russia, on 8 June, many of their fans may be worrying just where their goals are going to come from. Michal Bilek’s side only found the net on 12 occasions, despite conceding just eight in a successful qualifying campaign.
The concern can be found in a lack of a reliable goal scorer. Defender, Michal Kadlec, managed four during qualifying, and only once did the Czechs bag more than two goals in any game: a 4-1 victory over lowly Lithuania.
Kadlec scored a brace in that clash, both strikes from the penalty spot. His only goal in open play came via a tap-in against Liechtenstein, the full-back also scoring an equalising penalty against Scotland in the final minute of play at Hamden Park.
The Czech Republic cannot continuously rely on a defender to pull them out of trouble. Captain, Tomas Rosicky, and former Liverpool striker, Milan Baros, should have done more than yield one goal between them in qualifying.
Granted, the Czechs came through a five-nation group, with two of their games against world champions, Spain, but to score so few against the rest of the field suggests their Euro 2012 appearance may be no more than a cameo.
As the tournament’s lowest-scoring qualifiers, the Czechs are somewhat blessed to be in a group that should not witness the most goal-friendly collection of games.
Greece scored just 14 in qualifying, while Russia faired a little better, with 17 themselves. If the Czechs are going to progress from Group A, they need to find some firepower up front, or risk monotonous 0-0 draws against resolute opposition.
The England side have a similar issue to the Czechs; the absence of Wayne Rooney in the first few qualifying matches has resulted in a reduced opinion of Roy Hodgson’s team in the England betting odds.