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Petr Cech hoping for golden end to season

India TV News Desk 07 Jun 2012, 23:12:09 IST
India TV News Desk
Wroclaw, Jun 7: Dick Advocaat's Russia team was praised for its attractive, attacking play in qualifying for Euro 2012. On the eve of its first Group A match at the tournament, the veteran Dutch coach said Thursday that now winning is everything.

"It is all about results," Advocaat said.

But he held out hope his experienced side will not abandon its attacking instincts against the Czech Republic at Wroclaw's Municipal Stadium.

"We cannot change our way of playing (the) more attractive, attacking way," the 64-year-old coach said as he embarked on his fifth major tournament.

Advocaat said his entire team is fit for Friday's match, including first-choice goalkeeper Igof Akinfeev, who has been nursing a sore left knee this week after a cruciate ligament injury that sidelined him for more than seven months this season flared up again.

Czech Republic team manager Vladimir Smicer has fond memories of the countries' last meeting at a European Championship, in 1996. He scored a final-minute goal to salvage a 3-3 draw that was enough to put the Czechs through and eliminate Russia from a tournament where the Czechs finished runners-up.

If the Czechs are to reproduce that run to the final at Euro 2012, coach Michal Bilek will need striker Milan Baros to be fully fit.

The Galatasaray star strained a muscle in training Tuesday and is struggling to be ready for his team's opener, although a scan Wednesday showed no major muscle damage for the 30-year-old Baros, who has scored 41 international goals.

"He doesn't have to train," Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech said. "If he plays and scores, that's fine."

Baros, Cech and captain Tomas Rosicky, who has recovered from a calf injury, are the undisputed stars of a young Czech team that is rebuilding after the retirement of several long-serving internationals, including all-time leading scorer Jan Koller and midfielders Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and Smicer.

"At this moment they're trying to rebuild a new team," Advocaat said. "There's still some very good players so we know what we can expect."

Cech must be hoping 2012 will never end after helping his Chelsea team beat Liverpool to win England's FA Cup and following up with the Champions League title so long coveted by owner Roman Abramovich.

Cech was the hero of the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, saving penalties from Arjen Robben in regulation time and Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the shootout.

"A success at the championship in summer would be great," Cech said. "I would be really grateful if I could win a medal with the national team."

Advocaat in his first and last tournament with Russia before moving to PSV Eindhoven, is taking a 14-match unbeaten run into the match and hoping to go one better than the team that reached the semifinals four years ago, under another Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink.

Advocaat insists Russia has only an outside chance of claiming the European title that the Soviet Union won at the inaugural European Championship in 1960, and his players agree even as they ooze confidence on the training ground.

"Let's not forget that Poland are the tournament co-hosts, so there is a lot of attention on them," Russia midfielder Igor Semshov said. "Greece and the Czech Republic are outsiders who can strike at any given moment, so we have to be alert.

"And, of course, the first game plays an important role: everything kind of depends on what we encounter then, because how you start is also how you finish."