Czech Republic national football team
The Czech national football team represents the Czech Republic in international football, and are controlled by the Football Association of the Czech Republic, the governing body for football in the Czech Republic. Historically, the team participated in FIFA and UEFA competitions as Bohemia and Czechoslovakia. The Czech team, as Czechoslovakia, finished as runners-up to hosts Italy at the second-ever FIFA World Cup in 1934 and again were runners-up to Pelé's Brazil at the 1962 World Cup in Chile. They won the European Championship in 1976 over West Germany.
The national team was founded in 1901, existing under the previously mentioned names before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Their first international competition as the Czech Republic was the UEFA Euro 1996, where they finished runners-up, and they have taken part in every European Championship since. Following the separation, however, they have only featured in one FIFA World Cup, the 2006 tournament, where they were eliminated in the first round of the competition.
HistoryBefore World War I, the Kingdom of Bohemia, predecessor of the Czech Republic, was part of Austria–Hungary. Bohemia played seven matches between 1903 and 1908, six of them against Hungary and one against England. Bohemia also played a match against Yugoslavia, Ostmark and Germany in 1939 while being the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
When the Czech Republic was part of Czechoslovakia, the national team had runner-up finishes in World Cups and a European Championship win in 1976.
The 1990sWhen Czechoslovakia split and reformed into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Czech Republic national team was formed, and they played their first friendly match away to Turkey, winning 4–1, on 23 February 1994. The newly formed team played their first home game in Ostrava, against Lithuania, in which they registered their first home win, a 5–3 victory.
Their first competitive match was part of the UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying campaign, in which they defeated Malta 6–1 in Ostrava. During the campaign, the Czech Republic registered six wins, three draws, and an embarrassing defeat against Luxembourg, finishing their qualifying Group 5 in first place, above favourites the Netherlands. In the final tournament, hosted by England, the Czechs progressed from the group stage, despite a 2–0 opening game defeat to Germany. They continued their good form, and progressed to the UEFA Euro 1996 final, where they lost 2–1 to the Germans at Wembley Stadium.
Given their success at Euro 1996, the Czechs were expected to qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. They finished third in their qualifying group, however, behind Spain and Yugoslavia, and subsequently missed the tournament.
The 2000sThe Czech Republic qualified for Euro 2000, winning all ten of their group games and conceding just five goals. In the finals the team were drawn in Group D, alongside 1998 FIFA World Cup winners France, co-hosts the Netherlands and UEFA Euro 1992 winners Denmark. This was considered to be the most difficult group to advance from in the tournament. The team were unlucky in the first match against the Netherlands as they hit the woodwork multiple times before losing 1–0 to a last-minute penalty. The Czechs lost their second match against eventual champions France 2–1 which eliminated them from advancing to the knockout round. Czech Republic managed a 2–0 win against Denmark in their final game courtesy of two goals from Vladimír Šmicer.
Once again, the Czech Republic failed to qualify for the World Cup, this time finishing second in their group, behind Denmark, and then being beaten 1–0 in both legs by Belgium in the UEFA play-offs for a place in the finals.
After the disappointment of the play-off defeat to Belgium, however, the fortunes of the national team began to change significantly with a settled team of star players at top European clubs, such as Pavel Nedvěd, Jan Koller, Tomáš Rosický, Milan Baroš, Marek Jankulovski and Tomáš Galásek together with the emergence of highly rated young goalkeeper Petr Čech. The team were unbeaten in 2002 and 2003, scoring 53 goals in 19 games and easily qualifying for Euro 2004 in the process. The Czech Republic went on a 20-game unbeaten streak, finally ended in Dublin on 31 March 2004 in a friendly match against the Republic of Ireland. The Czechs entered the Euro finals in Group D, dubbed the tournament's Group of Death alongside the Netherlands, Germany and Latvia. Despite going behind in all three group games, the team won them all. This included trailing 2–0 to the Netherlands in a classic 3–2 win and beating Germany in the final match with a much weakened team having already qualified. The Czechs convincingly beat Denmark in the quarter-finals meaning a semi-final against Greece awaited them. The Czech Republic went into the semi-final against Greece as favourites and Tomáš Rosický hit the bar after just two minutes, Jan Koller had shots saved by the Greek goalkeeper and Pavel Nedvěd left the pitch injured in the end of the first half. It was not to be as the 90 minutes finished goalless and Greece won the game in the last minute of the first half of extra-time with a silver goal. Greece would go on to win the tournament.
The Czech Republic recorded their record win during the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification, thrashing Andorra 8–1 in a qualification match in Liberec. In the same match, Jan Koller became the all-time top scorer for the national team with his 35th international goal. At the end of the campaign, after finishing in second place in Group 1 then defeating Norway in a playoff, the Czechs qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. The team was boosted prior to the play-off matches by the return of Pavel Nedvěd, who had initially retired from international football after Euro 2004. The squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany included 18 of the Euro 2004 team which reached the semi-finals. With the team ranked second in the world, the Czechs were expected to do well. They started the tournament in fine form with a 3–0 win over the United States. During the game, however, Jan Koller was forced to leave with a hamstring injury, putting him out of the tournament. In the next game, with the absent Koller and Milan Baroš still recovering from injury, the team suffered a shock loss, having Tomáš Ujfaluši sent off and ultimately losing 2–0 to Ghana. Baroš returned for the final game against Italy which the Czechs had to win to progress. Once again, however, the team were reduced to ten men as Jan Polák was dismissed before half-time for two bookable offences. Italy went on to win 2–0. Pavel Nedvěd, Karel Poborský and Vratislav Lokvenc retired from the national team after this tournament.
The disappointing World Cup campaign was followed by a successful qualifying campaign for Euro 2008, where they finished top of their group, above Germany on head-to-head records. The Czechs beat co-hosts Switzerland 1–0 in their opening game, before being beaten 3–1 by Portugal, this meant that they, and Turkey carried identical records going into the final group game. The Czechs took a 2–0 lead just past the hour mark and looked set to qualify. The Turks, however, scored three goals in the final 15 minutes of the game to win the game 2–3, and that signalled the end of another disappointing performance at a major tournament and the final match for coach Karel Brückner.
After the failure to impress at the European Championship, the Czechs faced World Cup qualification, being drawn in Group 3, under the guidance of coach Petr Rada. They started with a 0–0 away draw against Northern Ireland, which was followed by a poor performance against Poland, losing 2–1. A late goal from Libor Sionko won the next game 1–0 against Slovenia. This was followed by an unconvincing win against San Marino, and a goalless draw in Slovenia. In their following match, against neighbours Slovakia, a disastrous 2–1 defeat at home left the Czechs in a precarious qualifying position. Manager Petr Rada was dismissed and six players were suspended. Ivan Hašek took temporary charge as manager, gaining four points from his first two matches, as the team drew away to group leaders Slovakia and thrashed San Marino 7–0 in Uherské Hradiště. They subsequently beat Poland in Prague but followed this result with a goalless draw against Northern Ireland, finishing third in the group and failing to qualify for the World Cup. Hašek announced his immediate resignation.
The 2010sA much changed team under new manager Michal Bílek entered the Euro 2012 qualifiers. The campaign began disastrously with a home loss to Lithuania. But an important win at home to Scotland was followed by wins against Liechtenstein. World champions Spain defeated the Czechs in between the Liechtenstein games, but the play-off spot was still in their hands. In the next game, a controversial last minute penalty from Michal Kadlec away to Scotland secured a 2–2 draw. Despite Scotland winning their next two games and the Czechs again being defeated by Spain, the team could finish second if they could beat Lithuania away from home in the final game, assuming Spain would beat Scotland at home. Spain won 3–1 and the Czechs convincingly defeated Lithuania 4–1 to seal second spot and a place in the play-offs. The Czechs were drawn to face Montenegro in the two-legged play-off. A memorable goal from Václav Pilař and a last minute second from Tomáš Sivok helped the Czechs to a 2–0 first leg lead. In the second leg in Podgorica, a late goal from Petr Jiráček sealed a 1–0 win and the Czechs ran out 3–0 aggregate winners and qualified for Euro 2012.
At the tournament, the Czechs lost their opening game 4–1 to Russia, with their only goal coming from midfielder Václav Pilař. In their second match, against Greece, the Czech Republic went 2–0 up within the first six minutes thanks to goals from Petr Jiráček and a second from Pilař. Following the half-time substitution of captain Tomáš Rosický, Greece scored a second-half goal following a mistake from Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech, although there were no more goals and the Czech Republic recorded their first win of the tournament. Going into their third and final group match, the Czech Republic needed at least a draw against co-hosts Poland to advance to the knock-out stage of the tournament. A second-half strike by Jiráček proved the difference between the teams as the Czechs ran out 1–0 winners. Due to Greece beating Russia in the other group game, the Czech Republic subsequently finished top of Group A, becoming the first team to ever win a group at the European Championships with a negative goal difference. The Czech team faced Portugal in the quarter-finals. In a tense and cagey game of few chances, Portugal eventually made the breakthrough with 11 minutes remaining through a header from Cristiano Ronaldo to win the match 1–0 and eliminate the Czechs.
Due to the improved performance over Euro 2008, Bílek stayed on as coach, despite unrest amongst fans, and was tasked with qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. The Czechs were drawn into UEFA Qualifying Group B along with Italy, Denmark, Bulgaria, Armenia and Malta. The beginning of the campaign was stuttering, with two goalless draws with Denmark and Bulgaria, paired with a narrow win against Malta, capping off their first three games. The team then had a setback in their fourth game, losing 0–3 to Denmark at home. The team was able to win against Armenia and draw with group leaders Italy, but lost to both Armenia and Italy in the rematches, greatly dimming their qualification hopes. Bílek resigned after the loss and was replaced with assistant coach Josef Pešice. In their last two games with their new coach, the Czechs recorded wins over Malta and Bulgaria but lost to Italy, leaving them in third place and ending their qualification hopes. Pešice resigned as coach following the conclusion of qualifying.
Pavel Vrba, the well known coach of Viktoria Plzeň, was appointed as the team's new coach on the first day of 2014, ahead of Euro 2016 qualifying. The Czech team, which was much changed from their disappointing World Cup campaign, was drawn into a tough group for qualifying, namely Group A, along with 2014 World Cup semifinalists Holland, Turkey, Iceland, Latvia and Kazakhstan. The Czech team began with a win, defeating group favourites Netherlands 2–1, and followed up with victories over Turkey, Kazakhstan and Iceland, leaving them as group leaders with maximum points after four matches. A draw at home against Latvia followed; nonetheless, the Czechs remained group leaders, and on 6 September 2015, the Czech Republic qualified for their sixth European Championship. However, they only managed to get one point from a draw with Croatia, losing to Spain and Turkey and suffering their worst performance in the European Championship. During a friendly match against Australia on 1 June 2018, the Czechs recorded their biggest defeat losing 0–4 in Sankt Pölten, Austria. It was surpassed during their first qualifier for Euro 2020, as they were beaten 0–5 at Wembley Stadium by England. Nonetheless, the Czechs were able to bound back and qualified for the UEFA Euro 2020.
FIFA World CupChampions Runners-up Third place Fourth place
UEFA European Championship
UEFA Nations League
FIFA Confederations Cup
- FIFA World Cup:
- * Runners-up : 1934, 1962
- UEFA European Championship:
- * Winners : 1976
- * Runners-up : 1996
- * Third place : 1960, 1980, 2004
- FIFA Confederations Cup:
- * Third Place : 1997
Head-to-head record (since 1994)As of 17 November 2019, after the match against Bulgaria.
Recent results and forthcoming fixtures
StadiumsTen different cities hosted national team matches of the Czech Republic between 1994 and 2011. The most commonly-used stadium is Generali Arena, the home stadium of AC Sparta Prague. As of 3 June 2014, the team has played 36 of 92 home matches there. Since 2012, competitive games have also been held Doosan Arena, Plzeň.
Stadiums which have hosted Czech Republic international football matches:
- Dušan Uhrin
- Jozef Chovanec
- Karel Brückner
- Petr Rada
- František Straka
- Ivan Hašek
- Michal Bílek
- Josef Pešice
- Pavel Vrba
- Karel Jarolím
- Jaroslav Šilhavý
Current squadThe following players were called up for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches against Kosovo and Bulgaria on 14 and 17 November 2019, respectively.
Recent call-upsThe following players have also been called up to the Czech Republic squad within the last twelve months:
- INJ = Withdrew due to an injury.
- PRE = Preliminary squad.
- RET = Retired from international football
- WD = Withdrew due to non-injury related reasons.
- 2006 FIFA World Cup squad
- UEFA Euro 1996 squad
- UEFA Euro 2000 squad
- UEFA Euro 2004 squad
- UEFA Euro 2008 squad
- UEFA Euro 2012 squad
- UEFA Euro 2016 squad
Players in bold are still active, at least at club level.
Most capped players