The difference in physicality was shown from the start at AEK Arena. The valiant effort of the Cyprus U17 team was not enough, as Czech Republic was dominant throughout the whole 90 minutes in all aspects of the pitch. After Serbia’s 1-0 victory over Ukraine, Czechia put 3 points in their name and they go top of group A after the closure of the first matchday of Euro 2024 U17.

An interesting stat that was presented as soon as the starting XIs of both teams were announced, is that 7 out of the starting 11 of the Czech republic, were teammates at Slavia Praga while the home side had 6 different teams in its startin XI. Twins Rafail and Stavros Dimosthenous started with Rafail captaining the side as well.

From minute 1, the Czechs showed their quality, and created 2 big chances before the 5th minute even came. They were attacking from all sides as the Cypriot 5-4-1 wasn’t enough to defend the constant pressure that was applied by the Czechs. Eventually, the inevitable came when the captain Stepan Meran, found Josef Kolarik in Cyprus’s box, dribbled past one and laid it on the right post and in. The opener came after 26 minutes and then the nerves hit. Seconds later a misplaced pass from the Cypriot defense, forced Rafail Dimsthenous to tackle Kolanik in the box and a penalty was given to the visitors. The penalty was converted by Marek Naskos and pretty match killed the game 28 minutes in.

In those 30 minutes the Czech Republic players overloaded the goal of Michos, forcing the Cypriot to make a lot of mistakes as the press was too much for them. The 4-2-3-1 that Jiri Zilak played so his team press very high, anticipating for the heavy touch of the opponent to attack the ball with a lot of players, often creating a 5v5 dynamic in the opponents box, giving them the opportunity to press successfully in many occasions. The one time that Cyprus managed to escape the press, number 10 Marek Naskos was there to block the counter and control possession for his team.

The only bright spot from the home side in the first 30 minutes is Chrysis Evangelou. Cyprus’s number 7, played on the Right Wing, and with his pace and agility he often dribbled passed the Czech defenders, but the final pass was missing. Stavros Dimosthenous, the Cypriot striker did not have the game of his life either, since the height and strength difference between the opposing center halves was imminent.

With 40 minutes on the clock, the Czechs get their 3rd after a beautiful counter, which saw Adam Sosna lay the ball into the path of Nechvatal who gave Michos no chance. With that and that, we knew where the three points would go, but we did not know where the scoreline would end. A dominant Czech side against a struggling Cypriot side, showed that the visitors were a much more athletic and well trained team.

With the second half underway, both teams make changes, with defender Skafi of Sampdoria replacing Charalambous for Cyprus, while Rehacek replaced Kolicek for the visitors. The hosts tried to be more aggressive but a great run from Ioannou behind the defense was stopped by the assistant’s flag after just 3 minutes in the 2nd half. The first 10 minutes flew by with not much happening, and the Czechs got really close to a 4th, after Naskos found Sonsa in the box who couldn’t direct the ball goalwards.

More substitutions from the home side as Chrysis Michael tried to switch to a more offensive minded 3-4-3, with midfielder Argyris Christodoulou having a more direct role, driving with the ball from the middle of the part, looking for the 3 attackers. The plan did not work, as the Czechs were shutting down every Cypriot attack and killed the game with a 4th goal after 81 minutes by substitute Penxa who made a great header from close range. The final blow came after 92 minutes, where Kvacek’s low shot went in the back of Michos’s net for the final score.

The visitors never looked like missing a beat, and the victory came very comfortably at the end, topping group A, on even points with Serbia, but a better goal difference. The Czechs seemed like an organized and well trained side, and time will show how far they can go.


Venue: AEK Arena
Tickets: 5,417
Score: 0-5
Scorers: Kolarik 26, Naskos (p) 28, Nechvatal 40, Penxa 81, Kvacek 90+2


Group A Standings:

  1. Czech Republic 3
  2. Serbia 3
  3. Ukraine 0
  4. Cyprus 0