Poland – Greece.
It appears easy to pick a winner here. Poland have some of the finest players in the Bundesliga, in Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczkowski and Robert Lewandowski and with the game taking place in the Warsaw, Polands capital, they have home support second to none.
But lets not forget what happened to Bayern in the Allianz arena, just two and a half weeks ago, when they were most peoples favourites in the Champions League final. A late equaliser followed by a missed penalty in extra time meant they weren’t able to capitalise on their undoubted dominance of the match and they went on to lose on penalties. Could something similar happen here?
Being the first game of the tournament, I would expect a low scoring match with less than 2-3 goals seeming probable. Poland and Greece are also set out reasonably defensively as seen here and here. Robert Lewandowski seems a likely scorer after scoring 22 goals for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season and he should get enough opportunities to put one away against a leaky Greek defence today.
Prediction: Poland 2 – 0 Greece.
Russia – Czech Republic
Although all the teams seem to have a reasonable chance of getting out of group A, most people are tipping Poland with one other. This could be the game which decides who gets that second spot and both teams will want to get points.
Russia have the bigger players, with Andrei Arshavin and Yuri Zhirkov names most Premier league fans will be familiar with, yet they will need to perform well if they are to get passed an organised Czech back 4. They will need a man to turn to for goals and luckily they have one in Aleksander Kerzhakov. Kerzhakov has been scoring for fun in the Russian league this season and is the man for big occasions scoring in crucial games for Zenit this season. Goals here & here.
The Czech’s star player is strangely their goalkeeper; Petr Cech. After a wobbly start to the season, Cech’s form has improved dramatically, becoming one of Chelsea’s key players in both legs of the semi final, as well as the final itself in their unlikely Champions league victory. If he can continue in this rich vein of form, the Russians will have to produce something special to get the win.
Prediction: Russia 1 – 1 Czech Republic