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Czechs out to avenge final defeat
Friday 24 May 2002

The Czech Republic will be looking to exact revenge over Italy in Zürich's Hardturm stadium at 20.30 CET on Saturday as the UEFA European Under-21 Championship reaches the semi-final stage.

Final defeat

Two years ago in Bratislava, Italy took the 2000 crown with a 2-1 final victory over the Czechs to continue their domination of an event they have won in four of the last five tournaments. Miroslav Beránek's team have not produced their best form so far. Their three group games brought them just a single victory and the 1-1 draw with Greece on Tuesday hardly marks them out as champions-in-waiting.

'Strong opposition'

The Czech coach admits they will need to be on top form to stand any chance of stopping Italy's charge. "Italy will be strong opposition but the players are in good shape physically and we will try our hardest and make sure that this game is not our last game in the competition," said Beránek.

Baroš wants revenge

Several players were involved in the sides' meeting two years ago, including the Liverpool FC striker Milan Baroš who commented: "I hope that we can take our revenge, reach the final and then go on to lift the trophy."

Missing trio

It should help the Czechs that their opponents are without three first-choice defenders tomorrow because of suspension although both Beránek and Baroš made the point that the Italian squad is strong and they have good players who can step in to the breach. Daniele Bonera, Gianpaolo Bellini and Cesare Natali are the missing trio and it looks likely that coach Claudio Gentile will ask Paolo Cannavaro and Paolo Castellini to step up and join Matteo Ferrari and Stefano Lucchini.

'A big team'

"We have to regard this match as the final because it would be dangerous to underestimate the Czech Republic," said Gentile. "Sure, they have not played very well up to now but they could suddenly find their form and we must be prepared for that. They are a big team, strong and physical, and they always look to get the ball forward to their two attackers."

Pirlo wants goal
AC Parma striker Emiliano Bonazzoli has a leg injury and may have to miss the game in which Italian captain, Andrea Pirlo will be looking to open his goalscoring account for the tournament. The Czechs need no reminding of his talent - he scored both Italian goals in the 2000 final.
 

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I am very much looking forward to this game. Italy vs England was a great match, and Maccarone scored most probably the goal of the summer.
 

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You mean what team or??? Castellini plays at Bologna, dont know more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Preview of other semi....

Domenech wary of Swiss threat
Friday 24 May 2002

France have won all three games so far in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship and are overwhelming favourites to take the crown for a second time. Yet coach Raymond Domenech admits his team are feeling the pressure as they prepare for Saturday's semi-final against Switzerland.

'Increased the pressure'

Domenech was referring more about off-field diversions and his side's move to Basel. Swiss defender Stephan Keller warned France that they will find it much harder now they are in "the real part" of Switzerland and Domenech agreed, saying of the move: "That has increased the pressure on us as we have left the paradise of Vevey [near Lausanne] for central Basel."

Players rested

On the form they have displayed so far France are the favourites to repeat their victory of 1988. They have also been able to rest their players and just about every member of their likely starting lineup in the Saint Jakob stadium will have taken part in only two fixtures.

Surprise package

They face the tournament's surprise package for a place in the final but Domenech feels it would be madness to underestimate a side which advanced from a group at the expense of Portugal and England. "I said before the tournament that Switzerland are a team that can shock the world," he said. "They have posed problems for every team they have faced. Against Italy they showed that they are a solid team and they will command a lot of respect from us."

Armand concern

FC Nantes Atlantique defender Sylvain Armand is carrying an injury and his participation is in doubt, but otherwise France should be at full strength. Ludovic Magnin, who missed Wednesday's game with Italy through injury, should be fit to play for a Swiss team who are by no means overawed by the occasion. "We respect France but we must not only respect them," said Switzerland coach Bernard Challandes. "We must confront them and we must make sure that we have no regrets after the game if we were to lose, say, by one goal."

Motivational techniques

Challandes will again be working on his motivational techniques aimed at inspiring another against-the-odds performance from his team. Before the Italy game he arranged for a 12-year-old boy who is suffering growth problems to spend the day with the squad. The youngster described it as the most beautiful day of his life and the coach urged his team to make it the most beautiful day of their lives. They did just that but it would be even more special for them if they were to defeat France.
 

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The red cards have already hurt us in the back. Czechs score a first min. goal and lead 1-0 going into the 20th min. :dazed:
 

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The team frankly wasnt good enough..the czechs deserved the win...i dont think our future is as bright without Enzo maresca and Toni Cassano...
 

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Maresca was injured and Cassano has been a brat and put himself out of the team. The absence of Bonera hurted the defence a lot...

By the way, Paolo Castellini plays for Torino, not Bologna. He is a left sided defender. Not exactly a good player...
 

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OH well...can someone give me a match report? A sad ending for Pirlo's U21 career.
I guess suspension and injuries ruined our chances, but we still took them to extra time so at least we have some pride going out.

I'm also curious about the downfall of Donati...a few months ago he was still a starter and now he barely gets a game. I thought in Maresca's absence Donati could step up but apparently I was wrong.
 

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This team isn't as good as the one that won it 2 years ago, but I was still expecting them to do well. Bugger...:( :depress:
 

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Zanchi, Zanetti, Commandini and Abbiati to name but a few, but my point is they were a better TEAM. Not to metion Pirlo, who hasn't been at his best, was superb 2 years ago.
 

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Gentile: Cassano could not have saved us Sunday 26 May, 2002

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Claudio Gentile does not regret leaving Antonio Cassano out of their doomed European U-21 Championship campaign.

The Coach opted to cut the Roma starlet from his squad after a series of rows with the player and question marks over his attitude.

The former Bari man¡¦s creativity was sorely missed in Italy¡¦s golden goal Semi-Final defeat to the Czech Republic last night.

¡§I remain convinced that my decisions were correct,¡¨ assured Gentile after a long and thoughtful pause in the press conference.

¡§If I had taken Cassano along to this tournament, who was I supposed to leave out? Perhaps Massimo Maccarone, the top scorer of the competition up until now with three goals to his name? Does that seem logical?¡¨

¡§Italy had a good tournament,¡¨ he added, ¡§eliminating two of the favourites such as England and Portugal. Let us not forget that.¡¨

¡§We were only eliminated in the Semi¡¦s by a Golden Goal, a concept I disagree with as it punishes the side that is pushing forward to score.¡¨

The next two-year era of the Under-21 side starts up in August with the qualifying round for the next European Championships and a spot in the Athens Olympics.

¡§I already have several new names under observation,¡¨ revealed Gentile, ¡§and in any case many of the current players will be very useful for the next era, such as Matteo Brighi, Massimo Donati and Alberto Gilardino.¡¨

¡§We have the right skeleton of the team to do well and, particularly last night, we showed that this squad has character.¡¨

Will Cassano be part of the next stage of the Azzurrini? ¡§I repeat it for the hundredth time,¡¨ snapped the tactician, ¡§he is young enough to be called later on and there are no vetoes on his name.¡¨

¡§We¡¦ll wait a couple of months, then we¡¦ll talk it over.¡¨

channel4
 

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Shame the team didn't make the final.
I think that some of the players from this team should get to play in the senior team regularly after the world cup. I really wanna see what Pirlo can do for the senior team.
 

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Yes, Pirlo should be given a chance at senior level now that his U21 career has come to an end. You can add Brighi to that list too. Trap had no problem calling up Bonera, and considering our options (or lack of) in midfield, we haven't much to lose.
 
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