Cech - My tips for pre-match preparation

He is the Czech Republic’s most-capped player of all time, the Premier League’s clean-sheet record holder and a Champions League winner, so when it comes to pre-match preparation, Petr Cech knows his stuff.

Our goalkeeper was the subject of our latest Close Up interview, in which he gave us a masterclass on how to prepare for games at the highest level.

on preparation…
I always did my research and always did my preparation, but I think we went up another level once I started working with Christophe Lollichon. We really went into details. This is how we approached the situation. I came over here and we did the same thing. You prepare, you watch the analysis of the other team, their free-kicks, corners and penalties, and all their attacking situations. Everywhere is the same.

on training…
If you don’t feel sharp or ready or on the top of your game, it affects your confidence. You can take people on if you feel sharp, fast, and then you feel confident and can do things as you wish. You always need to make sure that you go to the game and you feel that you’re ready, you’ve trained well and that you’re ready to perform. Anything can happen in a game so preparation doesn’t guarantee you anything, but it gives you the chance. This is what the players are looking for.

on visualisation…
Going to the game, I go through the facts, the set-play routines and attacking patterns which I’ve seen, that I might expect and might not, and also the changes. The team might play with a different formation, a different lineup, so you need to have a look once you’re on the pitch. When the game starts you analyse who is playing where and who is not, and obviously it makes a big difference whether you play against a big, tall guy or a small, fast guy. That completely changes your opponents’ attacking patterns. When I know there’s a big guy there, they will use him in a certain way, and when they use a small, fast guy differently, I can be ready for that and adjust my position and talking to the players.

on emotions and excitement in the build-up…
I feel the tension because you prepare and it means a lot to everybody. I’m obviously excited that I have a game to play but I feel the tension as well. No matter how many times you play, I don’t believe some people can go to the game completely relaxed. I can’t even imagine that. If you feel pressure, responsibility and that you want to win the game, you want to perform and do everything right, so you feel that tension inside you. I need to make sure I’m paying attention, I’m focused and doing the right thing. I need to make sure that in every second of the game I go through what is my job. What happens has happened, so I don’t look back. I just concentrate and focus on doing what I have to do every second so I can do my best. Once the game is over, you can be happy if you win and you’ve done your job well, or you can be disappointed with the final result. In the end, all that matters is that you’re ready for the next game. You have to give yourself the best chance to perform at 100 per cent.

on preparing every day…
Some people don’t prepare and then they turn up on a matchday and are absolutely brilliant. These are the lucky ones. It might only be 0.5 per cent of players who will do that because I’ve never seen anybody who would perform without being prepared. What can happen is that everybody is prepared but then on the day, when it matters the most, you don’t deliver. This can happen in football and you can’t explain it, but preparation does give you the confidence that you can perform, that you’re good enough to play and gives you the chance to win things.

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