Czechs' case for the defence
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It is said that all art is subjective and, for many, the art of defending still fails to stir the passions. Its very purpose, after all, is to destroy, frustrate and, above all, deny the opposition the lifeblood of the beautiful game: goals.

As a result, Czech Republic were never going to leave Port Said with cheers ringing in their ears after holding Brazil to a drab 0-0 draw. Not that Jakub Dovalil's side cared. They got exactly what they came for: a point and a guaranteed place in the last 16. And all thanks to a defensive gameplan executed to perfection.

As midfielder Petr Wojnar explained: "Brazil are a very strong team, maybe the strongest at this tournament, and it was vital that we showed a lot of discipline and unity in everything we did. Offensively, we can still improve - and I'm sure we will - but it was a very good defensive performance and one I think we can all be proud of.

"I wouldn't like to say that we have the best defence in the tournament, but you can see that we are ready to work as a unit and follow our coach's instructions to the letter. More than anything, I think we are a side that is practical and realistic about our own capabilities. We watched Costa Rica lose 5-0 to Brazil and, for me, their big mistake was trying to play the Brazilians at their own game. That just wasn't realistic because, in that kind of football, Brazil are always going to be the best."

We do have a lot of big guys in our squad and that should be a big weapon for us, especially at free-kicks and corners.
Petr Wojnar on being the tallest team at Egypt 2009

Such pragmatism is rare in players so young, and so too is the kind of cohesive, intuitive defensive performance that involved every Czech player performing a specific protective role. Yet if Dovalil's team played like a successful and close-knit club side against Brazilians, it is because, according to Wojnar, that is effectively what they have become.

"This coach and group of players have been together five years," he told "We know exactly what we can expect from each other and what everyone's strengths and weaknesses are. That's very important. I think you seen that on the pitch in the way that we stick together as a unit. We might not be the most skilful team here in Egypt, but I think that togetherness and organisation is our main strength."

Wojnar may be right, but it is far from the Czechs' only asset. With 11 6ft-plus players in their ranks, they are officially the tallest side at Egypt 2009, making set pieces an especially promising source of goals. "We do have a lot of big guys in our squad and that should be a big weapon for us, especially at free-kicks and corners," said Wojnar. "You seen what happened for our first goal against Australia [a header from an indirect free-kick] and hopefully there will be more of that to come."

Determined to maximise their strengths, this Czech side have the added incentive of raising national morale at a time when the senior side are toiling in their attempts to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™.

"It's tough for the national team right now and hopefully we can lift everyone by doing well out here," said Wojnar. "I wasn't in the U-20 team two years ago but I still remember how happy everyone back home was when they had such a big success in getting to the final. If we could do something similar here in Egypt, I know it would make our country very proud."