“Easy group” was the headline in one of Monday’s papers, and Sunday’s draw for football’s Euro 2008 could certainly have been far tougher for the Czech Republic, with Karel Bruckner’s charges set to face Portugal, Turkey and Switzerland in Group A. The Czechs, who reached the semi-finals at the last European Championship, must surely rate their chances of reaching the knock-out stage once again next summer. Nevertheless they won’t be taking anything for granted. Here’s midfielder David Jarolim:
“Maybe one or two groups there are tougher, but we can’t underestimate the teams we will face. The Portuguese went a long way at Euro 2004 and the last World Cup. The Swiss are hard to judge, and the fact they’ll be playing at home will make them unpleasant. And the Turks will be tough too. So it’s a hard group to read, but there’s definitely a chance of going further.”
The Czech Republic’s first game at the European Championship is also the first game of the whole tournament – they take on co-hosts Switzerland in the Euro 2008 curtain raiser on June 7 next year.
Czech cross country skier Lukas Bauer has maintained his great early season form with first place in the 15 km classic in Finland’s Kuusamo on Sunday. Bauer finished over 20 seconds ahead of his nearest rival to earn the fourth World Cup race win of his career. That also gives the Czech the overall leader’s position for the first time. Lukas Bauer:
“It’s a really great feeling. When they gave Axel Teichmann the yellow vest before and I was just 6.5 seconds behind him, I said to myself, I was so close…Now thanks to today’s race I’m the one wearing the yellow; it’s the dream of every competitor – not just to win a race but to lead the World Cup overall. But still it’s early days, and I won’t read to much into it.”
The Czech speed skater Martina Sablikova continues her winning World Cup run – the world champion and world record holder finished first in the 5000 m in Russia’s Kolomna at the weekend to maintain her lead in the overall standings.
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