England v Czech Republic: Visitors will draw on memories of 2008

Czech Republic's Vladimir Darida trains with squad-mates at Wembley on Thursday (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire).
Czech Republic's Vladimir Darida trains with squad-mates at Wembley on Thursday (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire).
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Czech Republic head coach Jaroslav Silhavy says his side are not channelling the spirit of Euro 96 ahead of tonight’s match against England.

The Czechs captured the hearts of the nation during their run to the final of the European Championships 23 years ago, where they lost to Germany at Wembley, which allowed the likes of Karel Poborsky and Patrick Berger to enjoy successful club spells in this country.

They are back at Wembley tonight for their opening Euro 2020 Group A fixture with the Three Lions, but it is their 2008 visit that Silhavy has used to motivate his players. England needed a 90th-minute goal from Joe Cole to earn a 2-2 draw.

“That was a great experience back in 1996 and we have some players like Karel Poborsky here to support us,” Silhavy said.

“We didn’t speak about 1996, we spoke about 2008 when we had a draw here. We really enjoyed that so I have talked about that because I was part of that.

“We would like to repeat that result.”

Czech Republic’s current team are nowhere near the level of either that 1996 or 2008 side as they arrive in England ranked 44th, having not qualified for the World Cup last summer.

To make matters worse they are without their captain Borek Dockal and goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik, both injured.

On Dockal’s absence, Silhavy said: “We hoped until the last minute he would be able to play, but we decided after the consultation with doctors that it will be better for him to stay out of the game. It is a key problem because obviously he is a leader and we will miss his creativity and his patience when he is on the pitch, but I am sure we will be able to overcome it and put in a good performance.”

Vice-captain Vladimir Dorida said: “I don’t think England will be underestimating us. It is better for us that we are playing them in the first game and not after other games.

“We have been watching a lot of videos of their games, (Harry) Kane and (Raheem) Sterling are very dangerous. We think that those two players are the strong part of the England team.”