Georgia 1 Czech Republic 1: Flawed entertainers, Czech misfortune and Schick’s injury blow

Georgia and the Czech Republic will head into the final round of matches with little room for error after they couldn’t be separated in Hamburg.

The Czech Republic’s Adam Hzolek had a goal ruled out for offside before his side were penalised in the opposite penalty area for the same offence, Robin Hranac adjudged to have handled the ball, allowing Georges Mikautadze to give Georgia the lead from the spot.

But Patrik Schick, who went on to leave the pitch injured, made it 1-1 when he bundled home at the far post after team-mate Ondrej Lingr’s header struck the upright.

Georgia’s Laja Sabalobjanidze came within inches of stealing all three points for Georgia with the final kick of the game but blazed over the bar as he attempted to finish off a thrilling three-on-one breakaway.

Carl Anka and Duncan Alexander analyse the key talking points from Saturday’s stalemate at the Volksparkstadion.

Georgia are Euro 2024’s flawed entertainers

After playing their part in a thrilling game against Turkey, many wondered if Georgia could serve up another footballing feast against the Czech Republic.

Willy Sagnol’s side are ranked 74th in the world — the lowest out of any team at Euro 2024 — but have become one of the tournament’s most entertaining sides.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Zuriko Davitashvili offer a creative dribbling threat out wide and Giorgi Mamardashvili is fast developing into one of the best goalkeepers in the world. This is a team built to “have a go”, preferring to defend in a compact shape closer to their penalty area before looking for long switch passes to the wing-backs to get up their field. This means their games often resort to them resorting to last-ditch defensive measures early on ; the Czech Republic pelted the Georgian penalty area with crosses throughout the first half but could not get through.

A “goal” in the 23rd minute from their opponents nearly broke Georgian hearts before VAR found the ball had ricocheted off Czech Republic forward  Hlozek before going in.

After that, Georgia stirred before finally getting their breakthrough through Mikautadze’s penalty.

There are times when Georgia can resemble Newcastle United under Steve Bruce, where Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron had to carry the ball 40 to 50 yards at a time to get into the final third.

Mikautadze is a professional pest of a centre-forward but he is not a natural target man, and his side can occasionally lack an attacking outlet. Yet there is a charm to these tournament debutants. Georgia are a team who aren’t afraid to take risks on both ends of the pitch.

Georges Mikautadze puts Georgia ahead from the penalty spot (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Carl Anka

The Czech Republic’s first half was almost historically unlucky

One of the great nuances of football is that it is inherently low-scoring. In many sports, the sheer weight of pressure that the Czech Republic exerted on Georgia in the first half in Hamburg would have seen Ivan Hasek’s side go into the break with a handsome lead. Instead, they trudged off 1-0 down and in semi-despair.

Their numbers from that opening 45 minutes make hard reading for Czech fans. They took 13 shots, nine of them from inside the box, an xG of 1.73 and zero goals. The 11-shot difference between the Czechs and Georgia is the largest seen in a first half at Euro 2024 with only 14 games in European Championship history (between 1980 and 2024) having witnessed a bigger one.

And those 13 shots don’t even include the effort VAR took away from the unfortunate Hlozek for a handball after 23 minutes, the same type of offence that handed Georgia a penalty as the half drew to a close. As unlucky halves of football go, this one was right up there.

Duncan Alexander

Mamardashvili’s reputation continues to grow

If you didn’t know much about Georgia and Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili before this tournament, this match was a fantastic way to get acquainted.

The 23-year-old made seven saves in the first half and he also found time to use his 6ft 6in frame to make three “high claims” from the many crosses the Czech Republic launched into the box.

La Liga viewers will know that the Georgian thrives at this sort of thing. In 2023-24 season, Mamardashvili best goals-prevented rate in the league.

His nimble footwork, strong hands and bravery inside his area make him one of the best goalkeepers in this tournament. He’s a shot-stopper that makes strikers uneasy in one-on-ones.

However, for all of his qualities, he could do with greater protection from the defenders around him. When the Czechs eventually breached his goal, it was through a Vladimir Coufal corner bundling in off the chest of Patrick Schick at the back post.

Mamardashvili will likely spend the coming weeks being linked with moves to more monied clubs around Europe — The Athletic has reported Newcastle’s interest in the Valencia man. In the next few days, he will be described as a cult hero in his homeland.

Giorgi Mamardashvili gets up above the Czech Republic’s Tomas Soucek (Marco Steinbrenner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Carl Anka

Schick’s injury a major blow for the Czechs

It has been a difficult few seasons for Schick. A series of groin issues have seen the striker struggle for consistent form and fluency in places. While the 28-year-old celebrated a league and cup double with Bayer Leverkusen in 2023-24, it was in something of a rotational capacity.

Schick still has good goalscoring movement in the penalty area. He didn’t go into this game expecting to bundle a ball off his chest but his 59th-minute goal counted all the same.

He was sheepish in his initial celebration, only to look devastated nine minutes later as he pulled up with an injury after attempting to sprint. He went off and ended up with an ice pack affixed to his upper calf. The Czech Republic’s already so-so goalscoring chances took a further dive without him.

Schick leaves the pitch after his injury (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Schick’s goal made him his nation’s highest goalscorer in European Championship history with six goals. If he cannot prove his fitness for their final group game against Albania, then goalscoring duties will be picked up by 25-year-old Mojmir Chytil.

The Czech Republic are fond of flooding the penalty area with forwards and getting crosses in. They like a back-post routine on corners and their use of Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal means they have a West Ham flavouring in more ways than one.

Carl Anka

Where does this result leave Georgia and the Czech Republic?

A point apiece — and oh how close Georgia came to taking all three only for Sabalobjanidze to miss the target — leaves both teams needing the stars to align in Group F. 

As they await the conclusion of Turkey’s game against Portugal, which kicks off at 5pm UK time, both teams will require a victory to snatch second spot in the group in the final round of games.

Georgia, who face Portugal next Wednesday, and the Czechs, who take on Turkey, could yet qualify as one of the best third-placed teams but that requires dominoes to fall in other groups, with the single point apiece they both currently hold unlikely to be enough.

What next for Georgia?

Wednesday, June 26: Portugal, Gelsenkirchen, 8pm UK, 3pm ET

What next for Czech Republic?

Wednesday, June 26: Turkey, Hamburg, 8pm UK, 3pm ET

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(Top photo:Ronny Hartman/AFP via Getty Images)

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