Team profile: Czechs hope to emulate 1976 success

With Group D settling quickly into a two-horse race between Germany and the Czech

Republic, Karel Bruckner’s side never looked unlikely to qualify for the Euro 2008, but finished their group as leaders.

The Czech Republic finished five points behind group winners the Netherlands in qualifying group for the 2006 World Cup, but one point ahead of third-placed Romania.

They got off to a fine start at the World Cup with a 3-0 win against the US but defeats by Ghana and Italy meant the Czechs were eliminated in the opening stage.

At Euro 2004, they were eliminated at the semi-final by the eventual winners, Greece. The only goal of the game after 105 minutes from Greek defender Traianos Dellas gave the Czechs virtually no time to muster a response. Earlier in the competition, the Czechs accounted for Denmark (3-0) in the quarter-finals after earlier winning all of their three engagements in the group stage against Latvia (2-1), the Netherlands (3-2) and Germany (2-1).

Their best run at the Euro was in 1996 when they reached the final but eventually lost to Germany. The golden goal made its debut in senior international competition at Euro 1996 and accounted for the Czech Republic in the final when Oliver Bierhoff scored the winning goal five minutes into extra time after a 1-1 deadlock.

As part of the former state of Czechoslovakia, Czechs were involved in winning the 1976 European Championship against the Germany. The final ended in a 2-2 stalemate in Belgrade before the Czechoslovaks won 5-3 on penalties.

Up until the end of Euro 2008 qualifying, the Czechs had played 54 matches in the European Championship, winning 39, drawing eight and losing seven. From independence up until the end of Euro 2008 qualifying their record in the qualifying round reads — 25 wins, six draws and two losses. They secured their biggest win in Euro qualification by beating San Marino 7-0. The Czechs retain a 100 per cent qualification record for the European Championship finals with four appearances from four attempts.