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[2024 European Cup Czechia] Can Czechia Republic Remain Among the Elite?

Czech football has a rich history of competitiveness. The precursor to the Czech team, Czechoslovakia, was the runner-up in the 1934 and 1962 World Cups and won the 1976 European Championship. Since becoming the Czech Republic, their best result was finishing as runners-up in the 1996 European Championship. In the recent European qualifiers, the Czech team shared Group E with Albania, Poland, Moldova, and the Faroe Islands. They secured qualification to the Euro 2024 by finishing second in the group with 15 points, level with Albania but with an inferior head-to-head record. 

In terms of squad value, the Czech team ranks 20th among the 24 Euro 2024 teams, with a total value of 146.65 million euros. Their squad value is behind their Group F opponents Portugal (1.06 billion euros), Turkey (385.25 million euros), and Georgia (156.9 million euros), making them the lowest-valued team in the group. The top three valued players are all from the top five European leagues, with West Ham United's captain Soucek (35 million euros) leading the list. 

The Czech team's coach, Hasek, took over as head coach on January 4th this year. He has only led the team in two friendly matches, winning 2-1 against Norway and Armenia. Despite his long coaching career, Hasek lacks experience coaching top clubs and major championships. 

In goal, Leverkusen's Kolar has secured the second goalkeeper position, keeping 14 clean sheets in 16 appearances this season. However, the starting goalkeeper position is more likely to be taken by Stanek, who has maintained a good form whether playing for Bílík or Slavia Prague this season. 

In defense, the central defenders may come from a trio of Zima, Holisek, and T-Wersek, as well as Kletis and M-Vitek from Sparta Prague. The 21-year-old M-Vitek was voted the best young player in the Czech Republic in 2023 and has shown great potential. 

In midfield, West Ham United's captain Soucek will play a crucial role. Masopust and Provod from Slavia Prague, as well as Lukas Sadilek from Sparta Prague, will compete fiercely for positions. In the attacking midfield position, the Czech team also has players like Barak from Fiorentina, Lingard from Feyenoord, and Cerny from Wolfsburg. 

Up front, the most eye-catching players are the Leverkusen duo of Hik and Herlozek. Hik has contributed 13 goals and 3 assists for Leverkusen this season, while Herlozek has contributed 7 goals and 5 assists. 

Despite Czechoslovakia's past successes and the Czech Republic's runner-up finish in their first European Championship appearance, the Czech team has since experienced a period of stagnation. In the Euro 2020, the team was eliminated in the quarter-finals. 

In the upcoming Euro 2024, the Czech team is in Group F with Portugal, Turkey, and Georgia. Their primary goal is to advance to the knockout stage. The team's first match against Georgia will be crucial, and a win could set a solid foundation for qualification. If they can achieve a good result in the first match, they may only need 1 point from the remaining 2 matches to advance. For the current Czech team, advancing from the group stage would be a victory, and they cannot expect more.

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