It’s showdown time in Group D with the two of the heavyweights coming face-to-face in Aveiro. Holland face the Czech Republic in a match which will go a long way to determining the eventual qualifiers from arguably the toughest group at Euro 2004.>/h3>
Dutch coach Dick Advocaat, who criticised the efforts of his players in their opening 1-1 draw with Germany, has begun to revise his opinion of that performance.
“I do not understand why we were judged to have played badly,” he said.
“I cannot say whether I’ll select the side that played well in the second half against Germany because I have to take the whole match into account.
“The team didn’t get better because of the substitutions but because they showed more guts. They also showed more aggression when they were 1-0 down.”
“We may not have the best team in the championship, but we always enter a tournament with intentions of winning it.
“We’ve only played one game, one draw, so everything is still open for us.”
Striker Ruud van Nistelrooy believes Holland’s form must improve if they are to beat the Czech Republic.
“We need to build on our performance against Germany which was not very good,” said the Manchester United star who scored in the 1-1 draw.
“The Czechs are well organised and will not leave much space to be creative.”
Czech Republic midfielder Vladimir Smicer has identified Ruud van Nistelrooy’s as Holland’s main threat.
The Liverpool midfielder said: “”He’s lethal inside the area as he showed with that strike against Germany.
“It was barely a half chance – just the kind of goal he specialises in.”
However, Smicer believes that in Milan Baros, the Czechs, have their own threat up front.
“He is our best striker at the moment,” added Smicer.
“Milan has scored four goals in his last three internationals so he is in very good form.”
The two countries met in the qualifying tournament, with the Czechs prevailing to top the group.
Czech midfielder Tomas Galasek, who plays his club football for Ajax, believes that each country’s knowledge of the other, will eliminate the element of surprise in tonight’s encounter.
“We have played each other many times and both teams know how the other plays so I do not think there will be any surprises.
“It should be a great game between two good teams. It is always special for me to play against the Dutch because I am up against some of my own team-mates.
“It’s going to be tough because they need to win after only drawing the first game. But we know a victory will put us into the quarter-finals.”
Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf has recovered from injury and may go straight back into the side. Wesley Sneijder, who replaced the anonymous Boudewijn Zenden against Germany, should retain his place.
Czech defender Rene Bolf misses out with a fever, with either Tomas Huebschman and David Rozehnal ready to replace him. Vladimir Smicer may start if the Czech Republic opt for a five-man midfield. Target man Jan Koller, who was placed on an intravenous after the win over Latvia, has recovered and will start tonight.
Holland: Van der Sar, Heitinga, Bouma, Stam, Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder, Davids, Cocu, Van der Meyde, Van der Vaart, Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Czech Republic: Grygera, Galasek, Bolf, Jankulovski, Poborsky, Koller, Rosicky, Nedved, Baros, Ujfalusi, Blazek, Smicer, Heinz, Jiranek, Mares, Lokvenc, Vachousek.
Referee: Manuel Gonzalez (Spain)