Preview: USA v Czech Republic

The USA meet the Czech Republic in the opening match of Group E.

    Key man: The Czech's Pavel Nedved

    While the “Group of Death” tag has been handed out to Group C

    any group that includes the world’s second, fifth and thirteenth ranked sides is sure to be a tightly contested one.

    Both the USA and Czech Republic will know that defeat will severely damage their ambitious hopes for the tournament, and their reputations as premier footballing nations.

    "It's tough to move on if you lose in the opening game," said US midfielder Landon Donovan. "This is a three-game season."

    Landon Donovan, something to
    prove

    Donovan will be on somewhat familiar soil after he played a stint with German side Bayer Leverkusen before returning to the MLS and resuming his US based career with the LA Galaxy.

    The match also sees two well respected coaches come face to face.

    USA coach Bruce Arena is the most successful coach in his country’s history. His ability to turn the worst ranked team at France ‘98 into quarter finalists at Japan/Korea 2002 speaks volumes of his ability to motivate his side.

    Now that the Americans have served their footballing apprenticeship they are keen for their progress to be acknowledged.

    "For years we haven't gotten the respect we deserve. We've established ourselves and now we're seeing the results," remarked US defender Gregg Berhalter.

    For the Czech Republic Karel Bruckner’s coaching career comes to an end when the Czechs finish their tournament. He has brought an attacking flair to the side, now ranked second in the world, and has a 33-7-7 record for his time at the helm.

    His side will rely on the attacking midfield duo of Juventus’ Pavel Nedved and “Little Mozart” Tomas Rosicky to create the chances for the strike pairing of Milan Baros and giant target man Jan Koller.

    While the USA have gained plenty of respect with their exploits of the last few years, the doubters still question their ability to win in Europe.

    The side is 0-6 against European teams in World Cups on European soil and have been outscored 18-3 in the process.

    On Monday they get their chance to start correcting the ledger.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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