It was the last elusive dream pursued by one of the greatest generations ever in Czech football: an appearance in the prestigious World Cup. The last time any Czech played in one was fifteen years ago - at Italia '90. Now, it's next stop Germany. On Wednesday night, the national squad - ranked 3rd in the world - qualified by beating Norway 2:0 on aggregate. At Prague's Letna stadium players like Karel Poborsky and Vladimir Smicer celebrated, while star midfielder Pavel Nedved fell to his knees in jubilation and relief.
Rising Czech tennis star Tomas Berdych defies the world rankings at the Paris Masters; Nicole Vaidisova's 18-match unbeaten run is at an end, but she still has reason to celebrate; Sparta Prague continue to struggle at home and in Europe; Slavia falters at the top of ice hockey's Extraliga; Jaromir Jagr continues to shine in the NHL.
In Sports News: Czech driver Roman Kresta comes fifth in the Rally of Catalunya, matching his career-best position; the crisis at Sparta Prague football club continues with a home defeat to Olomouc - not the best preparation for a Champions League game at Arsenal; and Milan Baros says his club Aston Villa may not release him for the World Cup play-offs unless he gets fit soon.
The Czech-German border is one of history's fault lines, for centuries a place of tension between the German and the Slav worlds. For many people the events of 1938, when Hitler annexed the Czech border regions are still in living memory, and after the war almost the entire German minority of Czechoslovakia was forcibly expelled. But although we often hear about Czech-German tensions, on the ground things today are very different. Once closely guarded borders are open and cross-border relations are friendly and for the most part break the stereotype.
In Sports News: the Czech Republic will face Norway in the football World Cup play-offs, while former captain Pavel Nedved surprises many by saying he is available for the two games; Sparta Prague get off to a winning start under new manager Stanislav Griga; Slavia ice hockey club lose for the first time this season; and Nicole Vaidisova climbs to 17th in tennis's world rankings after taking three WTA titles in as many weeks.
There was huge relief for Czech football fans on Wednesday evening, when the Czech Republic beat Finland 3:0 to secure second place in their group, and a berth in the play-offs for next year's World Cup in Germany. Anything less than a win would have spelled the end of a dream for many Czech fans - they may never again have the chance to support their heroes in such a competition so near home.
It's make or break time for the Czech football team: on Saturday they face the Netherlands in the first of two crucial qualifying games for next year's World Cup, a competition they last reached way back in 1990. If the Czechs beat Group 1 leaders Holland, and Finland next Wednesday, they could secure themselves an automatic World Cup place. But several important players are out injured and it won't be easy. I caught up with Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech at the team's Prague hotel, and asked him if he and his teammates were nervous ahead of the big