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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Volksparkstadion

West Ham boys hanging in there at the Euros, but it's proving a struggle

Volksparkstadion Picture by Yann Tear
Volksparkstadion Picture by Yann Tear

By Yann Tear at Volksparkstadion, Hamburg

Georgia 1 Czech Republic 1

Neither Thomas Soucek nor Vladimir Coufal are strangers to yellow cards and the muck and nettles of matchday combat and the switch from domestic chores to national service has made no difference to those expectations.

The West Ham duo know that the supposedly more sophisticated dynamics of international football does not lessen the need for the same rolled-up-sleeves mentality required to keep their club's fortunes afloat.

As if to prove the point, both were booked in Saturday's 1-1 draw for the Czech Republic - or Czechia as they are known these days - against a thrillingly adventurous Georgia team making its first appearance at the Euros.

It has been a difficult group for the Czechs to negotiate and even with third placed teams having a chance to progress from the groups into the knockouts, it will almost certainly require them to beat Turkey on Wednesday in their final pool match.

Given that there are so many Turks living in Germany, it will feel like an away match for Soucek and Coufal in Hamburg. In other words, even more combat will be required.

Soucek is skipper for the Czechs and his influence involved much pointing to team-mates, directing them where to patrol, and some close-quarters challenges.

Although he would not be considered 'that kind of player' the midfielder was one the biggest collector of yellows for the Hamners last season with seven. Only the South American trio of Edson Alvarez, Emerson and Lucas Paqueta had more.

Coufal picked up a relatively modest five which seems slightly surprising, given that fiery approach he brings to proceedings.

inside Volksparkstadion Picture by Yann Tear
inside Volksparkstadion Picture by Yann Tear

In truth, both players could consider themselves a little unfortunate to be cautioned by German referee Daniel Siebert in the Volksparkstadion. Both made controlled attempts to win the ball off Georgia's star player- Khvucha Kvaratskhelia of Napoli.

Soucek was unable to come up with one of those late winners that are becoming his stock-in-trade but Coufal took the corner which led to the Cech equaliser just before the hour mark. His flag kick was headed onto a post by Ondrej Lingr, with the rebound forced over the line by the chest of Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrick Schick.

Georges Mikautadze had put Georgia ahead with a penalty in first half injury time but the Czechs made the better chances overall, even if Georgia missed a glorious chance at the death to win it when Saba Lobzhanidze skied woefully after at the end of a 3 v 1 breakaway.

It needed several fine saves from Georgia's excellent Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili to ensure parity.

"We are disappointed. We wanted more from this game,:" Soucek said. "We wanted three points and to get through the group.

"It's tough for us but we are still in the game and we know that we go into the last group game of the tournament to get a win."

The two warriors of West Ham in Czech colours are ready for the test.


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