Sunday: knock-out match between Czech Republic and Turkey
Czech Republic and Turkey have an all-or-nothing fight for qualification for the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 when they meet in Geneva on Sunday. By Barry Whelan.The winner will go through as Group A runners-up to Portugal for a last-eight meeting with Group B winners Croatia in Vienna next Friday.
The last group game for both sides has the nature of a knock-out match. As both teams are level on points, goal difference and goals scored, it could come down to a penalty shoot-out if the sides are drawn after 90 minutes under a new UEFA regulation
"It's a game with the character of a final and we want to win in 90 minutes," said Czech Republic coach Karel Brueckner.
"We need to play like we did in the first half against Portugal. We know there is an alternative to going to penalties, even though we are going to practise them."
The Czechs lost 3-1 to Portugal on Wednesday, while Ardan Turan's injury-time winner against Switzerland put Turkey exactly level with the Czechs,
"Turkey are a technically strong side who can beat anyone but we know our opponents well and are well prepared," Brueckner said.
The coach was meanwhile coy on possible team changes after Milan Baros was preferred to Jan Koller against Portugal. "We have options," he said on the possibility of them both playing together.
The Czechs will feel justified in being wary about the new penalty shoot-out rule, having lost out at past European Championships as the result of rule changes.
They were defeated at the Euro 96 final to Germany on the then newly introduced "golden goal" rule, and went out to Greece at the semi-final stage of Euro 2004 as a result of the "silver goal" rule, also since disbanded.
However history is on their side: in 14 games between the two sides the Czechs have won 10 and lost just one.
Meanwhile, while Turkey have never been in a major penalty shoot-out, the Czech Republic beat France 6-5 to reach the Euro 96 semi-finals, while Czechoslovakia defeated West Germany 5-3 in the 1976 final and France 9-8 in the 1980 third-place match - a proud record of three wins out of three with all 20 attempts converted.
However the Turks are determined to wrap the game up without the need for penalties. Midfielder Hamit Altintop said: "If we play like we did in the second half against Portugal we will have nothing to fear."
Having already won the group, Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari meanwhile has the luxury of being able to field a B team against Switzerland in Basle.
For the co-hosts there is only pride to play for following their defeats to the Czech Republic and Turkey.
Defender Patrick Mueller said the Swiss should go all out for victory for the sake of honour, but warned that the came would not be any easier because Portugal would not be at full strength.
Portugal's reserve players would be out to press their claims for a place in the side, he said.
"That could make it more difficult. The players on the bench want to show what they can do so they can get on the pitch."
Swiss players also want a fitting farewell to coach Koebi Kuhn who is stepping down after seven years in charge following Euro 2008 to be succeeded by Ottmar Hitzfeld.
[Copyright DPA + Expatica]