Czech Republic – Poland
Both teams are still fighting to get out of Group A and, with Russia expected to beat Greece in the other game, whoever wins will qualify in second position. The Czech’s looked much improved in their last match and could have scored more. They did however look shaky in the second half and let the Greeks back into game and can perhaps consider themselves slightly fortunate to get all 3 points. Poland on the other hand were the complete opposite, and after a poor first half, came back into the game scoring an outstanding equaliser. Kuba’s strike was one of the goals of the tournament so far.
The Czech Republic took the lead very early in their last game, scoring 2 goals within the first 6 minutes. They looked dangerous down the right flank, with Petr Jiráček and Theo Gebre Selassie both looking dangerous, but the most impressive player with Tomáš Rosickÿ. His touch was superb and his passing and vision was a constant threat, picking out runs behind the Greek’s defence. Unfortunately he was removed at half time with an injury to his Achilles tendon and faces a race to be fit in time for today’s game. If he doesn’t make it the Czechs will be without their captain and best player, and could lack any attacking threat. The Czechs only need a draw to qualify, and could play much more defensively. This is a risk as if they concede early it can be hard recover, as Ireland and Greece have showed.
A draw for Poland won’t suffice and they need a win get out of the group. They have shown a lot of inexperience so far and are still looking for their first win in a major tournament. After throwing away what was looking to be a comfortable win against Greece, then falling asleep and conceding a poor goal from a Russian set piece, Poland will need to work on their concentration and discipline if they are to advance any further. Poland coach Franciszek Smuda also has important choices to make regarding who plays tonight. Does he stick with Przemysław Tytoń who has been solid in the one and a half games he has played, or go back to original first choice Wojciech Szczęsny who was made mistakes in the game with Greece? Against Russia Maciej Rybus was dropped in favour of the more defensively minded Dariusz Dudka, but needing all three points today can he afford to the same?
Prediction: Czech Republic 0 – 2 Poland
Greece – Russia
Despite only having one point, Greece can still get out of the group but have to win against Russia if they have any chance of doing so. Russia have gained many neutral’s support with their free flowing, attacking style and are the highest top scorers in the competition. Although they only need a point to reach the knockout stages, a win would guarantee they finish top of the group and avoid playing Germany next.
Greece have been terrible so far and are yet to keep a clean sheet or score more than one goal in a game. They have played defensively in both their games, but against Russia will surely have to go for a more attacking outlook. If they sit deep Russia have the players to punch them who Poland and Czech Rep. didn’t and the scoreline could be embarrassing. Their star player, Georgios Samaras, has been largely disappointing and is yet to show his talent. Often playing a left forward role, he doesn’t track back nor does he contribute offensively often trying to dribble past several players before loosing the ball.
Russia have been an entertaining watch and their high scoring approach has gained them many plaudits. The competition’s top scorer; Alan Dzagoev, has been excellent throughout and his goals have made up for Aleksander Kerzhakov and Andrei Arshavin’s wastefulness. Out of contract in December, he will want to impress any potential suiters by continuing in this rich vein of form and proving it is not just a sporadic purple patch.
Prediction: Greece 0 – 3 Russia