The Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner, has warned his players of the dangers of complacency ahead of tonight’s Euro 2004 showdown with Denmark.
The Czechs understandably are riding the crest of a wave at the moment. The only team to win all three group matches and unbeaten in 18 competitive fixtures, they have emerged as the team of the tournament to date.
However, Bruckner says he will not underestimate Euro 2004 quarter-final opponents Denmark.
“My team approaches every opponent it plays with humility.
“I have watched Denmark in their last two matches – the Danes certainly have a very good offensive game.”
His assistant Miroslav Beranek added: “They are very well organised and play very well together as a team.”
“Our three victories will mean nothing now. They do not automatically mean we will beat Denmark at all.
“To win the group is nothing. Now it starts again for real and we are not afraid of Denmark or of anyone.
“We know they are a very strong team and we respect them. But we also know we can attack very well against many sides and that defence is our weakness.
“I expect it will be a very open, attacking game and that there will be plenty of goals. It should be entertaining to watch.”
Bruckner, who rested nine players for the 2-1 win against Germany, will start with his strongest eleven against Denmark.
All the big names return including Pavel Nedved, Jan Koller, Tomas Rosicky and Milan Baros who came off the bench to score the winner against Germany.
Danish coach Morten Olsen believes his team will be meeting the Euro 2004 favourites in Porto.
The Danes, who could justifiably claim to be the strongest team to emerge from a tough group which included Sweden and Italy, will not be content to make up the numbers against the Czechs.
“We must never be satisfied with what we have done,” said Olsen. “I think it’s important we set new goals.
“I think we can beat the Czech Republic even though I consider them probably favourites to win the tournament.”
“They play good football and show they have a real desire to win the games. It will certainly be a good game of football,” Olsen added.
“I think I may have spotted a weakness in the Czechs – I know something but I’m only going to tell my players.”
“We have witnessed some good games of football and I have noticed that the teams who play the most attacking football are the ones who have had the best results.
“The Czech Republic are a good example of this.
“I don’t think there is such a great difference between the two teams. It’s going to come down to form on the day and I hope we can do it on the day.
“We’ve had one more day of rest now than between the group games. I am not worried.
“If we can reach our top level, we can beat any team in the world.
“It’s a tough competition. It’s tough to get into the quarter-finals, the level is very high.
“But the so-called smaller nations are getting bigger and Denmark is such a nation.”
Danish striker Ebbe Sand, who has been suffering from a thigh injury, is a major doubt for Denmark and is set to be replaced by Peter Madsen.
Niclas Jensen definitely misses the match and possibly the whole tournament, with Kasper Bogelund his likely replacement.
Both teams have shown great endeavour in their previous matches, both look full of energy and attacking ideas and one hopes that the prize at stake will not curb their natural instincts.
The game promises to be the highlight of what has been a disappointing round of knock out matches. For all the drama of the penalty shoot outs, not to mention the shock value of Greece’s victory over France, the tournament is crying out for a great game.
While the Czech Republic have rightly received the plaudits for their performances in the group stage, they will do to remember that they are meeting a team capable of outplaying both Sweden and Italy.
Czech Republic: Cech, Grygera, Bolf, Ujfalusi, Jankulovski, Poborsky, Galasek, Rosicky, Nedved, Baros, Koller
Denmark: Sorensen, Helveg, Henriksen, Laursen, Jorgensen, Bogelund, Gravesen, Poulsen, Rommedahl, Tomasson, Madsen.
Referee: Valentin Ivanov (Russia)