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Darida doubtful as delayed Czechs face Netherlands

Czech captain Vladimir Darida was in doubt Saturday whether he would start against the Netherlands in their Euro 2020 last-16 game after picking up an unspecified injury in training.

The Czechs, who qualified as the third best team in Group D, are facing Group C winners the Netherlands at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on Sunday evening.

“I’m in the care of doctors and physiotherapists, we are trying to do our best so I could play tomorrow,” Darida told a press conference in Budapest.

“I don’t want to speculate, we’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” added the Hertha Berlin midfielder.

His potential absence would be the second for coach Jaroslav Silhavy’s team after left-back Jan Boril received a second booking in the last group game against England.

Boril is likely to be replaced by Hoffenheim defender Pavel Kaderabek or Ales Mateju of Brescia, while Darida may give way to Verona midfielder Antonin Barak.

Barak replaced Darida in the centre of the Czech midfield for a World Cup qualifier in March, in which the Czechs held Belgium to a surprise 1-1 draw in Prague.

“That was a very good game, and if we play like this on Sunday, we may succeed,” said Silhavy.

“Barak is one of the options,” he added.

The Czechs had their bit of bad luck on Saturday as their flight from Prague to Budapest was postponed over a plane door defect.

“It wasn’t pleasant, but we reacted fast, we had training in Prague, then some rest, and we travelled to Budapest on another plane,” said Darida.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, he recalled past Czech wins—their 3-2 victory at Euro 2004 and then in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Amsterdam.

“We could use that result,” Darida said.

“We have to play better up front, keep the ball, because the Dutch are great at pressing and when they lose the ball, they are really strong at re-pressing,” he added.

Silhavy, who was an assistant coach at Euro 2004, said he expected an extremely tough test against an opponent that won all three games in Group C.

“The Netherlands will be the favourite, but anything can happen in a game like this and I believe we can make it hard for them if we play as a team and maybe even stun them,” said the 59-year-old former defender.

“In 2004, we went to the tournament as one of the favourites and now it’s the other way round, but we all want to take the favourite by surprise,” added Silhavy.

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