Czech Republic will have to improve on their recent performances in order to reach the final tournament, especially as they play host to very good Montenegro side. The Brave Falcons have shown a lot of potential in their first ever European Championship qualifying campaign and they are extremely motivated to reach the final tournament.
Tough times for the Czechs
The national team of this Eastern European country has been experiencing numerous difficulties over the last decade, but we cannot really say that was not expected. After the golden generation of Czech football that consisted of players like Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky, Jan Koller, Vladimir Smicer and Marek Jankulovski stepped down from the international stage, the national team chiefs found themselves in a big problem as there was not enough fresh talent coming through the ranks. As a result, Czech Republic missed out on three of last four World Cups, although they had a bit more success on the European stage. The team were pretty disappointing in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, but they somehow managed to beat Scotland and Lithuania to the second place in the group, although that can hardly be considered a great achievement. With the whole team still heavily relying on Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and Jaroslav Plasil, the hosts could find it tough to match a very balanced Montenegro side.
Important midfielder Tomas Hubschman is suspended for the first leg, whereas keeper Petr Cech is a major doubt after breaking his nose at the weekend.
Montenegro brimming with confidence
Having shown a lot of potential in their first ever qualifying campaign, Montenegro were expected to take the rich vein of form into the Euro 2012 qualifiers as well. However, not even the most optimistic fans could predict that the Brave Falcons would beat Wales, Bulgaria and Switzerland in their first three games before holding England to a goalless draw at Wembley. The team suffered a small dip in form in the closing stages of the campaign, but they managed to secure the second place in the standings by sharing spoils with England under new coach Branko Brnovic, and now have a historic chance to make it to their first major tournament. With no injury or suspension problems, the atmosphere surrounding the national team is at an all time high, with the visitors heavily relying on Mirko Vucinic – Stevan Jovetic attacking partnership. However, unlike the Czechs who mostly rely on individual quality of their players, Montenegro boast a very good team spirit and a homogenous unit, which could give them the extra edge in this clash.
Midfielder Branko Boskovic returns to the side following the lengthy spell on the sidelines, while Nikola Drincic should be fit to play after recovering from minor injury.
Czech Republic have been largely struggling in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, with the obvious lack of quality in the side seriously affecting their performances. Montenegro, on the other hand, have shown that they not only possess a lot of individual quality, but that they are also a very good team, and I believe they can get something from this game.
Our prediction: Montenegro with +0.75 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.92 (23/25)