Illustration photo – Group G match of the qualification of the 2023 European Championship for footballers, under 21, Czech Republic – England, 3. June 2022 in České Budějovice. Czech coach Jan Suchopárek.
Tbilisi/Bucharest – The 24th European Under-21 Football Championship will start on Wednesday, this time jointly hosted by Georgia and Romania. At the final tournament for the second time in a row, the Czech team is not missing. Coach Jan Suchopárek's men will face the two biggest favorites for the gold, England and defending champion Germany, and erratic Israel in a strong Group C in Georgia, and they will still try to fight for promotion. The championship will also be a qualification for next year's Olympic Games.
The Czech team will appear at the “small” Euro for the second time in a row and for the fourth time out of the last five final tournaments. The year before last, under the leadership of coach Karel Krejčí, the team did not advance from the group in the championship. The best result of the Lions is gold from 2002.
16 teams will participate in the European Championship for the second time in a row, which are divided into four groups of four. The first two teams always advance to the quarterfinals, the final will take place on July 8 in Batumi, Georgia. Historically, the most successful Euro countries are Italy and Spain with five golds.
The Czechs believe they can shuffle the promotion cards, even though they are among the outsiders of the tournament according to the bookies. Tipsport rated the odds of their overall triumph at 35:1, Fortuna even 45:1. “I believe that we are ready to play an excellent match. Top teams are waiting for us, who are among the favorites of the tournament, and I would certainly not forget about Israel. But if luck favors us, we can advance,” said Suchopárek, who was eliminated due to injury immediately two number one goalkeepers Matěj Kovář and Antonín Kinský.
His charges will play the entire group in Georgia – the first two matches in Batumi and the third match in Kutaisi. On Thursday, they will enter the championship against England, with whom they will repeat the battles from the qualification. “Lvíčata” lost the outdoor duel 1:3, then lost to the favorite 1:2 in the home rematch and finished second in the group behind Albion. For the final tournament, the youngsters from the play-off qualification went through Iceland.
“We played the qualification with England, the Germans played with Israel, that's the paradox of this group. The first matches will be the same as in the qualification. There will be no underestimation both from our side and from the side of the opponents,” remarked Suchopárek.
In the second duel of the group, his team will try to surprise the defenders of the German trophy. Last year, the team of then coach Stefan Kuntz won the third gold in history and the second of the last three championships after a 1-0 final victory over Portugal. In addition, the Germans reached the finals in all of the past three championships, which is also why, according to Tipsport, they are the biggest contenders for overall triumph and, according to Fortuna, co-favorites with England.
The Czech U21 team played against Germany at Euro 2017 in Poland, where they suffered a 0:2 defeat. “Germany are the defending champions, they have won nine matches and lost only one in the qualifiers, which shows the great strength of their team. They are also one of the favorites for the championship, relying on excellent players from the Bundesliga. But I believe that just as they beat them in the qualifiers Poland, we are able to torment such a team and get a good result with them too,” Suchopárek said.
The final opponent of his wards in the group, Israel, will appear at the Euro21 only for the third time. However, youth football there has gone up a lot, the under-20 national team unexpectedly won bronze at the world championship a few days ago.
Participation in the Olympic tournament in Paris will also be played at the “small” Euro. The start will be secured by the three best teams other than the organizers of the games, France and England.
Program of the Czech team in the group:
Thursday, June 22:
< p>18:00 Batumi: Czech Republic – England.
Sunday 25 June:
18:00 Batumi: Czech Republic – Germany.
Wednesday 28 June :
18:00 Kutaisi: Israel – Czech Republic.