Chelsea & Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech tells FourFourTwo magazine how much he's looking forward to Euro 2012
How would you describe the mood in the camp going into the Euros?
We are all happy to have qualified for Euro 2012, we’re looking forward to the tournament and we are going to approach the finals in a very positive mood. This team is united, which is something we proved during our qualifying campaign.
What do you make of your group?
We have been drawn in a group along with Poland, Russia and Greece, so it is a difficult and balanced group where all the teams can beat everybody. In my opinion, every single goal and point will be decisive in our group.
Which teams do you count as the favourites to lift the trophy?
If you look at the results from previous tournaments as well as the most recent qualifying campaign, I think you have to say that Spain and Holland will be among the biggest favourites to win the trophy.
Some people say the European Championship is more difficult to win than the World Cup. What do you think?
That’s a matter of opinion, but I think there's some truth in that if you look at the FIFA world rankings [seven of the top 10 teams are from Europe].
What do you think of England’s chances this year?
England have a very good team, and I think they could have a very good tournament in June. They have mixed a young generation of footballers with more experienced players, which is a good combination that can work well.
Are there any emerging stars we should be keeping an eye out for in the Czech squad?
Petr Jiracek, who is at Wolfsburg, is a midfielder who has made an impressive journey into the team thanks to his excellent form this season. He has settled very quickly into our first XI. He is a hard-working and versatile player who can cover a lot of ground during matches.
From an individual point of view, what are your own ambitions heading into the tournament?
My ambitions are the team’s: we will try to qualify for the quarter-finals, which would obviously represent great success for the national team.
Interview by Karel Haring. From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.