Spain vs Czech Republic will be an interesting game because while Spain possess the star team filled with big names, they are known to falter and, to have Czech Republic beat Spain in the first few matches will definitely set the tone for the Euro 2016.
Spain are the defending champions of the last two Euros. They are arguably the greatest national football team of the decade as they have been lording it over their rivals since 2010, but as seen in the last World Cup which Germany won, it is evident that their team isn’t as formidable as they used to be. The team also boasts of familiar global names in every position of the pitch, both their starting unit and backups.
When it comes to Czech Republic, Pavel Vrba has brought to the national team a quality that they lacked before: organisation. Defence will play an integral role for the team, especially with Spain, Croatia and Turkey in the group. The team is considered as the weakest in a group also composed of powerhouse teams, but then it is way too early to write them off, and facing off against Spain will set them reaching for the stars.
Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal’s withdrawal from the squad due to a hamstring injury means Juanfran is expected to start in his place, with Hector Bellerin and Cesar Azpilicueta also options. Alvaro Morata is carrying a knock, but he is expected to be fully fit in time to start the opener against Czech Republic. There is plenty of competition for the three places in midfield, but Iniesta, Busquets and Koke will start most probably. David de Gea is likely to continue in goal, relegating the veteran Iker Casillas to the substitute’s bench.
Borek Dockal is the only injury concern for Czech Republic after he picked up an injury in their final warm-up game against Russia. But he is likely to be fit in time and no surprises are expected from manager Pavel Vrba.
Spain are unbeaten in all four meetings with the Czech Republic, with 3 wins and 1 draw. Each of the three wins came from the last three matches.
All the four meetings between the sides were in competitive two leg fixtures, in 1996 for the World Cup qualifiers and in 2011 for the Euro Cup qualifiers.
Czech Republic have scored just one goal against Spain so far, while conceding 5.
Spain: Alvaro Morata
The centre-forward position has been the most multifaceted, even during Spain’s triumphant years. It transpired quickly from the classic David Villa-Fernando Torres duo to a lone striker and then even a false striker. Morata has grown in Italy as a supporting striker who can also play as a left-winger for Juventus. He is a clever player, with remarkable dribbling skills and is physically up to the challenge of holding the ball up when he needs to. This profile fits with what Spain need right now in that position, but the feeling persists that Morata is not as intimidating a striker as Raúl or Diego Costa. Although his goals are not very high, he has a big-game mentality. He also came off the bench to win the Copa Italia this year with a strike that will have given him plenty of confidence.
Czech Republic: Tomas Rosicky
A vital component of the team is Tomas Rosicky. No one can match his creativity, though he has struggled with injuries and the team have had to learn to cope without him. Without Rosicky, the Czech Republic struggle to open up teams who defend deep – for example, the 1-0 defeat by Scotland in a friendly in March – but they will not meet such opponents in the group stage at the Euros. According to the pundits, however, he is finished: his body will never recover sufficiently to play professionally again. Rosicky has shown repeatedly that he can get into a rhythm immediately even after long absences, and with a tournament as high profile as the Euro 2016, he is likely to get that killer groove back again.
Spain is the perfect team on paper, but things can change quickly once the game is underway. However, the outcome is likely to be a 3-1 victory for Spain.