Czech Republic boss Jaroslav Silhavy feels home fans will give Scotland the edge

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Czech Republic head coach Jaroslav Silhavy believes a hungry Hampden crowd will give Scotland the advantage in their Euro 2020 opener.

About 12,000 fans will be admitted on Monday afternoon as Scotland supporters return to the stadium for the first time since 2019.

Only a handful of domestic Scottish games were played in front of crowds last season with numbers restricted to a few hundred.

Ten-day self-isolation rules for Czech travellers have made it difficult for away fans to attend and Silhavy feels the home crowd will put his side up against it.

Scotland fans will be back in Hampden following a long absence (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Of course it gives them the advantage,” he said. “The home crowd is hungry for football, they haven’t got to the stadium for a long time.

“It’s going to be exciting for them and it’s going to motivate the Scottish team.

“The atmosphere is great for all of the players on the pitch but it will be an advantage for them.”

Silhavy, however, dismissed any noti on that there would be animosity because of the issues that marred Slavia Prague’s Europa League win over Rangers at Ibrox in March.

The Czechs will be without Ondrej Kudela, who received a 10-match UEFA ban for racially abusing Rangers and Finland midfielder Glenn Kamara.

Slavia and Rangers clash

Slavia and Rangers clashed in March (PA)

There are five Slavia players in the Czech squad as they return to Glasgow three months after a game during which their goalkeeper, Ondrej Kolar, suffered a fractured skull following a high challenge from Kemar Roofe.

“I believe there is no animosity,” Silhavy said. “This will be a sporting fight. We hope to put on a great show for the fans. We don’t feel any animosity against Scotland and I believe everything on the pitch will be fair play.”

Like Scotland, the Czechs will not take the knee at Hampden. Instead they plan to point to the UEFA Respect inscription on their sleeves to show their support for racial justice while Scotland players stand.

“We want to fully concentrate on football and the sports side of things,” Silhavy said.

“I understand that these are important topics for the whole of society, and my team and I obviously condemn any and all displays of racism, but we talked this through back in March, agreed on our own show of support for the fight against racism, and we do not intend to change anything about that decision.”

The Czechs have twice lost to Scotland this season in the Nations League, although they pipped their opponents to top spot in their group.

Silhavy missed both games because of Covid-19 issues but he expects to face an even stronger Scotland side.

After picking out Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay and Andy Robertson as the danger men, he said: “Compared with the games we played against them, they are stronger now.

“They run, they know what they are doing, they go straight forward, they send long balls to their strikers and they are really strong, not only in their attack but also their defence.

“But this is the first group game so we will start equal and it can be details that decide the game.”

The Czechs have had a difficult build-up to the tournament, abandoning plans to use the Oriam sports complex near Edinburgh as their base in favour of staying in Prague for fear of being subjected to stringent self-isolation rules.

They also suffered a 4-0 defeat by Italy before beating Albania 3-1.

“It’s going to be very different from the warm-up games because, as you have seen from watching Italy, they didn’t let Turkey breathe even,” Silhavy said. “I don’t want to use this as an excuse but Italy are really strong.

“The game against Albania, we were better. There were some mistakes but also it showed us where we need to get better, where the problems lay, and we can work on them. It was just in time for the Euros starting.

“I believe the players will breathe in the atmosphere of the Euros at training and on Monday we will show what we have.”

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