Soccer-Czechs eager to snap decade-long winless run against Scotland


Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Czech Republic Training - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain - June 13, 2021 General view of Czech Republic players during training REUTERS/Lee Smith

GLASGOW (Reuters) - The Czech Republic will be eager to end a winless run stretching back to 2011 against Scotland when they take on Steve Clarke's side in their Euro 2020 opener on Monday, coach Jaroslav Silhavy said.

Over the past decade, the two teams have met four times and Scotland have emerged victorious on the last three occasions, including securing 2-1 and 1-0 wins in the UEFA Nations League last year. The other match, a Euro qualifier in 2011, ended in a draw.

Silhavy said the experience from those encounters will help the Czechs to start off on the right foot before facing Group D favourites Croatia and England.

"We hope the experience playing Scotland will be useful and we can finally beat them," Silhavy told a news conference on Sunday. "It is an important match to be sure and we will have more difficult games against opponents who are favourites."

The Czechs enter the tournament with the core of the Slavia Prague team that reached the Europa League quarter-finals, giving them the confidence to make a mark at the tournament.

Slavia Prague centre back Ondrej Kudela is serving a 10-match UEFA ban for "racist behaviour" during the club's Europa League last-16 match against Scottish champion Rangers, potentially adding a bit of spice to their Euro showdown.

But Silhavy said he expected no animosity to carry over onto the pitch, though he acknowledged Scotland had an edge with the 12,000 home fans who will roar them on in Hampden Park.

"We hope to put on a great show for the fans and we don't have any animosity against Scotland," Silhavy said.

"Scotland is the home side and it gives them an advantage. "The home crowd is hungry for football. It's going to be exciting and it's going to motivate the Scottish."

Silhavy also said aside from Werder Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka -- who left the squad due to injury -- all players were fit.

Tomas Koubek will join the squad on Tuesday, while Tomas Vaclik is expected to start against Scotland.

The coach -- who will lead a team at a big tournament for the first time -- said he had his starting 11 in mind but could make a few changes following Sunday's training session.

"When you lose a player during the preparation, especially a goalkeeper, it's hard," Silhavy said. "I hope this is the last change we will have to make."

(Writing by Michael Kahn in Prague, additional reporting by Robert Muller, Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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