FIFA World Cup™ finals history
Much was expected of the Czech Republic side that travelled to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, but they returned home following a disappointing group stage in which they suffered 2-0 defeats to both Ghana and Italy, only beating USA 3-0. Prior to that tournament, Czechoslovakia twice finished as runners-up: they lost 2-1 after extra time to hosts Italy in the 1934 Final, and suffered a 3-1 reverse to Brazil at Chile 1962.

The team
The standout player in the Czech side is without doubt world-class goalkeeper Petr Cech. Tomas Rosicky is another of the team’s pillars, and the playmaker’s extraordinary ability can make the difference in any game. Nowadays, Czech Republic rely on their strength as a unit, whereas previously they could depend on the talents of exceptional individual players, as they did at UEFA EURO 1996 in England, where a star-stacked ensemble reached the final.

The coach
Pavel Vrba has been charged with putting Czech Republic back among the global elite the after the side failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Vrba took over the reins from caretaker coach Josef Pesice, who had stepped in following Michal Bilek’s departure. Having previously guided Viktoria Plzen into the UEFA Champions League, Vrba has proven that he is a coach who has what it takes to work with young players at the very highest level. 

The stat
55 – Jan Koller is the country’s all-time highest goalscorer after netting 55 times in 91 games. It will be a while before anyone follows in the centre forward’s huge footsteps – Koller wore European size 50 boots – as the current player closest to his tally is Rosicky, who is over 30 goals behind.

The former stars
Josef Masopust, Antonin Puc, Zdenek Nehoda, Karel Poborsky, Jan Koller, Milan Baros