Czechs end EURO 2012 campaign after quarter-final loss to Portugal

Photo: CTK

The Czech national football team lost 1:0 to Portugal in the quarterfinals of EURO 2012 in Warsaw on Thursday and was knocked out of the tournament. In the game, the Czechs delivered their best performance at the championships but failed to stop Portugal’s star Ronaldo from sending them home. Thursday’s match was also the Czech striker Milan Baroš’s last appearance for the national side.

Photo: CTK
The Czechs’ last game at EURO 2012 was also their best, at least in the opening stages of the match when Michal Bílek’s side controlled the play and put the complacent Portuguese under pressure. The Czechs controlled the midfield where the injured playmaker Tomáš Rosický was replaced by Vladimír Darida for whom the match was his first appearance at the tournament and only third for the national team.

Unfortunately, the Czechs did not create any real scoring opportunities – they never took a shot at the Portuguese goal throughout the entire match. They came close a couple of times, for instance when Darida passed the ball from the right in front of the goal in the 18th minute but striker Milan Baroš narrowly missed it.

Photo: CTK
In the second half, however, the Portuguese took over and eventually prevailed. Czech defenders with confident Theo Gebre Selassie did their best to eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo’s attempts but Ronaldo hit two gaol posts before he finally scored some 10 minutes before the end of the game. As defender Tomáš Sivok said after the game, Ronaldo is a world class player.

“I think we managed well in the first half but in the second, we were running out of strength. He is one of the two best players in the world, along with Lionel Messi, which he proved when he scored with a header from the edge of the box. He is a complex player, difficult to defend, and he’s one of the best in the world.”

Michal Bílek,  photo: CTK
Some commentators said the team reached its limit at the EURO 2012 tournament despite a dismal start against Russia which beat the Czechs 4:1. The national side then improved considerably in the two other games against Greece and Poland which the Czechs won. A huge setback of course came when the team’s playmaker Tomáš Rosický injured his foot and could not play in the decisive game against Portugal. The Czechs tried hard but it was not enough to keep going. Coach Michal Bílek said that he considered the team’s participation in the quarter-finals a success.

“Now I’m quite content because we have managed to put together a good team over the last couple of years, it’s a really great bunch of guys. I’m glad we made it to the quarterfinals also because the first match was quite unfortunate and we got ourselves in a difficult situation. But the team showed a great character and we made it to the quarter-final after all.”

Photo: CTK
Striker Milan Baroš said Thursday’s game was his last appearance for the national side. The Galatasaray Istanbul forward became the second best scorer in the national team’s history with 41 goals in 93 international games. But this season Baroš only scored once, in November against Lichtenstein. That was one of the reasons why tension developed between Baroš and Czech fans who did not like his falling down and diving, and indeed between him and Czech sports reporters to whom Baroš also stopped talking after they criticized him

Many fans would also like to see coach Michal Bílek himself go. But the Czech FA gave the coach a new, two-year contract before the EURO even began so Michal Bílek will be in charge of the national team for the upcoming qualification for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.