Nations League: Scotland face tougher Czech Republic challenge after Covid chaos


Czech Republic's Tomas Soucek (centre) in training at Hampden
West Ham United summer signing Tomas Soucek (centre) is central to Czech Republic’s system
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Wed, 14 Oct Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app; watch highlights on Sportscene

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on much of the world’s population and football, as we have seen, is far from immune to it.

Domestically and internationally, we are seeing positive results dominate the headlines and dominate managers’ line-ups.

Scotland are no different, with head coach Steve Clarke casting those issues aside to guide his team to seven games unbeaten.

If they are to make it eight for the first time since the late 1980s, they will have to do it against one of coronavirus’ most-affected European teams.

Czech Republic were forced to plunge their entire team into isolation immediately after their impressive 3-1 win over the Slovakians on match-day one of this Nations League campaign.

It led to a late-night tweet indicating that their next match – against the Scots – would not be played three days later.

As we now know, the game was played with Clarke’s men coming up against an effective Czech C team, with the A and B teams left helpless in Bratislava.

It remained a challenging night, however, as Scotland came from behind to win the match thanks to Lyndon Dykes’ first international goal and Ryan Christie’s penalty.

This will be a tougher test even if, once again, the Czechs have had their squad shorn yet again by the challenge currently facing the world.

However, the team that takes to the field at Hampden will be more akin to the one that will return to Scotland’s national stadium for the European Championship next summer.

Indeed, since that home defeat by Scotland, Jaroslav Silhavy’s side have recorded two 2-1 way wins of their own – a friendly in Cyprus being followed by another in Israel that leaves Jaroslav Silhavy’s side only a point behind Wednesday’s hosts in Nations League Group B2.

Players to watch

Czech Republic's Matej Vydra celebrates scoring against Israel
Burnley striker Matej Vydra scored the Czech’s second goal in a 2-1 win over Israel

VLADIMIR DARIDA

The Czech captain is the most experienced man in the squad and a veteran of the last two European Championships. While the Czechs do not possess the superstars of the past, such as Tomas Rosicky or Pavel Nedved, Darida leads a well-drilled side from the middle of the park. The Hertha Berlin midfielder is a consistent performer and will be looking forward to making it a hat-trick of Euros appearances in June.

TOMAS SOUCEK

The 25-year-old turned a loan at West Ham United into a permanent deal in the summer after leaving Czech champions Slavia Prague. Soucek partners England international Declan Rice in David Moyes’ engine room and followed in the footsteps of legends Roskicy, Nedved, Patrik Berger, Petr Cech and his captain, Darida, in being named Czech player of the year in 2020.

MATEIJ VYDRA

The Burnley striker was on the scoresheet against Israel in Haifa as the Czechs kept on the Scots’ coat-tails in their Nations League section. Although he is not a prolific scorer at club level, he is the main man up front for the visitors in the continued absence of new Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick, who was one of those who tested positive last month.



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