Czech Republic 0-2 Turkey
I can’t think ’cause I’m just way too tired
Is this it?
Is this it?
Is this… it?
Well, this is it.
The Spain performance could be excused because the Czech Republic were playing a much superior side, one that placed emphasis on a free-flowing and possession-based style of play. The draw against Croatia, whilst encouraging, must be viewed through the prism of fireworks and flights and an opposition whose minds were clearly elsewhere.
But for this defeat to Turkey – in what was literally a must-win game – there are no excuses; just the stark realisation that the Czechs are (currently) a wretched side, devoid of energy, ideas and a manager capable of smart tactical decisions.
And that realisation hurts.
It hurts because this isn’t the Czech Republic that we have seen over the past two years. Throughout qualifying, the Czechs wore their weaknesses on their sleeves yet still attacked with the wonderful abandon that we have come to expect from Pavel Vrba-managed outfits. But in France, that free-flowing, friendly and ingratiating style of play was thrown out of the window. Instead, a dour and pragmatic approach was adopted that turned out to be as useful as the proverbial chocolate fireguard.
Questions have to be asked and answers need to be given.
But, to the game itself.
When the team news was released, the general consensus amongst those of a Czech disposition was positive. Vrba had made a number of positive changes and even though Tomas Rosicky was absent through injury, the Czech side looked fairly attacking with plenty of nous in advanced positions. Defensively too there was a change that delighted fans, as Daniel Pudil was brought in to replace the laborious David Limbersky at left-back.
However, despite the personnel changing the flat level of performance seen in earlier games remained.
Inside ten minutes, Turkey were ahead. The Czech defence failed to track Emre Mor and instead of keeping tabs on the new Borussia Dortmund signing, they gifted him the freedom of the pitch. Mor raced forward and crossed to Buruk Yilmaz, who, with a neat finish, clipped the ball past Petr Cech.
In response to going a goal down, the Czechs thought about coming out of their shells. Borek Dockal began to spray some dangerous looking balls into the Turkish penalty area, but beside a Tomas Sivok header, Volkan Babacan was rarely threatened.
The coup de grace of the Czech’s attacking ambition came when Pavel Kaderabek stuttered when through on goal, hesitated and fired into the side-netting.
In the second-half, Mor flourished. The new Borussia Dortmund signing was all neat passes, flicks and eye-catching bursts of pace. In one standout moment, he conjured up memories of Michael Owen against Argentina in Saint-Etienne back in 1998, only to fire high and wide.
“He was our saviour tonight,” Fatih Terim, the Turkey coach, said of Mor after the game. Whilst saviour is perhaps too kind, his efforts, flicks and eye-catching changes of pace gave Turkey something that the Czechs did not: exuberance and a fearless approach to football.
With sixty-five minutes on the clock and after Vrba had decided to throw on Milan Skoda in hope, Turkey scored their second. The Czech defence collectively switched off, failed to clear their lines and presented Ozan Tufan with a clear sight at goal from ten yards.
Despite doing their best to get a foothold in the game, the Czechs failed miserably and couldn’t match up to Turkey’s desire and energy. Vrba admitted as much afterwards, saying, “we didn’t use the ball very well [and] we couldn’t break up play.”
The end of the line?
After the game, Petr Cech remained evasive when questioned about his international future. The speculation is that he will take a step back and allow Tomas Vaclik and Tomas Koubek to battle over the right to inherit his gloves.
Whilst Cech failed to give a definitive answer, others were more forthcoming with their plans as David Lafata and Jaroslav Plasil announced their retirements from international football. Tomas Rosicky will surely follow, and it is possible that we have seen Roman Hubnik and Milan Skoda play their last game for their country. A changing of the guard is here.
And what of Vrba? Questions must surely be asked about his future, especially as the rumours linking him with a move to Russia do not appear to be dissipating.
Czech Republic: Cech; Kaderabek, Sivok, Hubnik, Pudil; Pavelka (56′ Skoda), Plasil (90′ Kolar); Dockal (71′ Sural), Darida, Krejci; Necid
Turkey: Babacan; Gonul, Topal, Balta, Koybasi; Mor (69′ Sahan), Tufan, Turan, Inan, Sen (90′ Ozyakup); Yilmaz (90′ Tosun)
Goals: 37′ Yilmaz (Turkey), 65′ Tufan (Turkey)
Bookings: 35′ Koybasi (Turkey), 36′ Plasil (Czech Rep.), 39′ Darida (Czech Rep.), 50′ Balta (Turkey), 87′ Sural (Czech Rep.)
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 22nd June 2016