ANDRI YRKILL VALSSON and MARTIN CHARVAT / AIPS, PRAGUE: Pavel Nedved, ambassador for the 2015 UEFA U21 Euro in the Czech Republic believes leading European clubs will be keenly watching the eight finalist nations in Prague and Olomouc over the next two weeks.
But Nedved, also a director at Juventus, cautioned that for all the potential of the ‘name’ teams, the surprise of the tournament could be Denmark.
The hosts face the Danes in the Opening Match in Slavia’s Eden Stadium; the second Group A clash sees Germany take on Serbia at Letna.
Nedved said: “I know about the qualities of England and Germany but I think the big surprise could be Denmark. I am really curious about the opening game.
“We [Czechs] are not the favourites despite the fact we are playing at home. We hope the people are going to cheer us and I believe that all the games will be sold out.”
Nedved, asked about the value of the experience gained for future events such as Euro 2016, said: “Everyone wants to get to France and if a couple of players will perform well then it‘s a huge opportunity for them to attract the attention of their national coaches.
“Certainly they could have a chance to be in the squad in France next summer.”
Not that the rulebook has done the Czechs any favours. Back in October 2012, when the Czechs lost a qualifier against Russia, they had key players Tomas Kalas and Vaclav Kadlec sent off . . . which means both miss the clash with Denmark.
“When it happened, I thought that it was going to be a long time until the home championship, but it lasted the blink of the eye,” said coach Jakub Dovalil. “Carrying over a red card for nearly three years is brutal in this category.”
Another problematic absence is that of Matej Vydra from England’s promoted club Watford. For reasons which are a mystery to Dovalil, the Czechs could not obtain his release.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide and is co-operating with UEFA in running a Young Reporters course in the Czech Republic. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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