It may be time for Koller to step down

June 11, 2008

Koller in action against the Swiss

There’s just a few hours to go before the Czech Republic take on Portugal and the Koller question is foremost in my mind.

There is no disputing Jan Koller’s impressive goalscoring record – 54 goals in 88 internationals – so you can understand why coach Karel Brueckner picks him time and again.

The problem is that at 35, Koller has definitely slowed down and the only realistic way of him scoring is by using his height advantage (2.02 metres) in the box. He is never going to make darting runs or use dazzling footwork to score. He will either use his head or his bulk and it won’t be pretty.

That was all fine when Czech Republic boasted a fine array of creative midfielders – Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky, Vladimir Smicer – who could supply the big man with the perfect ball. Now they have all gone and, as we saw against the Swiss, the Czechs are left seriously lacking in midfield ideas and Koller barely got a decent ball.

Without taking anything away from Koller, isn’t it time Brueckner took a chance on some of the younger forwards in the team, perhaps playing two of them upfront instead of his preferred lone striker formation? Koller would be the perfect player to bring on as a late substitute when they’re looking for a goal.

Koller seems bound to be in the starting XI against Portugal but Brueckner has said there will be some changes.

What do you think would work best? Saturday’s goalscorer Vaclav Sverkos as a second striker? Euro 2004 top scorer Milan Baros alongside Koller? Or does young forward Martin Fenin have a role to play?

I guess we’ll see soon enough…

PHOTO: Switzerland’s Gokhan Inler (R) challenges Jan Koller at St Jakob Park in Basel, June 7, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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You were prescient I see… Koller left out of Czech starting line-up

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