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Czech sees Frei as most dangerous Swiss player

6 June 2008

SEEFELD – If you ask the Czech Republic’s players or coach about which Switzerland opponent poses the biggest threat in the European Championship’s opening game on Saturday, the answer is always the same: Alexander Frei.

“A top striker,” said goalkeeper Petr Cech, who played with the Switzerland striker at Rennes in the French league before he moved to Chelsea four years ago. “He’s for the Swiss what … (Jan) Koller is for us.

“Someone who was the best scorer of the French league has to know something about scoring. And that’s who Frei really is.”

Cech is hoping that his familiarity with Frei will be an advantage when they meet in Group A, but he knows that it goes both ways.

“I know him well but he knows me well, too,” Cech said. “It can be my advantage, hopefully, but we need to prove it on the field.”

Cech, who has never played against Frei, said the two have stayed in touch since he left Rennes.

“I know he’s a dangerous player and I need to be ready for everything but I played many games against the best strikers in the world,” Cech said. “You need to always concentrate on your game and be ready for everything.”

Frei’s international scoring record shows Cech knows well what he’s talking about. Last week, Frei scored twice to lead Switzerland over Liechtenstein 3-0 in its final warm-up match before co-hosting Euro 2008 to claim his 34th and 35th goals and become Switzerland’s career scoring leader.

Koller, the Czech Republic’s all-time leading scorer who was replaced by Frei at Borussia Dortmund two years ago, is aware that his Swiss counterpart is the one to be watched.

“He scored a lot of goals in Dortmund,” said Koller, who has scored a record of 54 goals for the Czechs. “He’s a typical striker. We have to watch him carefully.”

Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner analysed about 10 recent Switzerland games and said they have a very good player for each position.

“We know our opponent pretty well,” Bruckner said. “Still, I’d like to single out some of their players: (Philippe) Senderos in the defence, (Gokhan) Inler in the middle of the midfield, left midfielder (Tranquillo) Barnetta, and of course, Frei.”

[AP / Expatica]

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