Preview: One way or another, the Czechs have made an impact throughout the history of the World Cup.  Prior to the end of the Cold War the former Czechoslovakia had appeared in 8 World Cup finals and were runners up in 1934 and 1962.  In 1993 the country had split into two, yet Czech Republic retained much of the athletic prowess, most notably in hockey and soccer.  1996 and 2004 saw two very strong showing in the European Championship, and the nation enters this year’s World Cup ranked #2 in the FIFA World Rankings.  Even though the point system doesn't necessarily represent the team's true odds, the Czech side indeed is a real contender, and the expectations back home are enormous.

Nobody scored more goals in the European qualifiers than the Czechs, who can score at will.  The attack is led by Jan Koller, Karel Poborsky, Liverpool's Milan Baros, and of course the captain and sparkplug Pavel Nedved, who is expected to retire from soccer after the World Cup.  The 34 year old Nedved is one of the real stars of recent past, as evidenced by his European Footballer of the Year award in 2003.  He came out of international retirement in 2005 to help the Czechs qualify, and his first ever world cup will be one of the stories to follow this summer.

Result: Group E action was as wild and unpredictable as any other group, and Italy and Ghana emerged out of the fray to advance to the next stage.  The Czechs were able to flash their brilliance however, in a dominant 3-0 win over United States.

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