Hosts in a Decider
Group A: Poland vs Czech Republic
Friday, 16 June 2012
2045 (local time); 1445(EST); 0015(IST)
Stadion Miejski, Wroclaw
The Euros have been an entertaining and successful tournament in terms of excitement. However the continuation of participation of the hosts in it is an important factor in determining how the next couple of weeks will be. Poland were supposedly the stronger of the hosts, and in a weaker group. Much was expected of them. However two 1-1 draws, one of them after totally dominating the Greeks for 45 minutes and being up a goal has left them in a do or die stage. Win and go through. Any other result, and they become the first casualty of their own tournament. The Poles have the arsenal to actually win against the Czechs who have been totally lacklustre in their match against the Russians but won an important match against the Greeks. Poland needs more clinical finishing from their strikers for it was raining chances when they played Greece. Against the Russians, though they were lucky to emerge with a draw but still had many chances to win it. Robert Lewandowsky, the star man, has a lot to do and hopefully there will be service from the likes of Obraniak and Blaszczykowski.
The Czech Republic can safely go to the next round if they avoid a loss today and hope Greece doesn’t win against Russia. The Czech defense has been suspect and the Russians got 4 goals and even against the Greeks, it was almost a lucky escape. The team lacks young upcoming players and lot of the cast was also there in the 2004 Euros when the Czechs last proved to be a significant force. Theodor Gebre Selassie his pace and defensive acumen will be tested as the Polish attack down their left side. But the attacking heart is with Tomáš Rosický and he has to pull the strings as expertly as he did against the Greeks.
Poland have not won a match in a tournament proper since the group stages of the 2006 World Cup. Not only that, they have not yet won a single match in the history of European Championships. Well they have to achieve a first in their history here to progress and it will not be easy.
The Czechs have followed a strange bounce in their progression in the Euros, since the inception of the country. Runner up in 1996, group stage exit in 2000, semi-finalist in 2004, group stage exit in 2008! So if you follow that progression, you would say they would at least reach the quarter-finals if not more, in this European championship. That would be slight overachievement from this band of footballers, many of whom probably have had their best spells behind them.
Teams & Formations
The Czechs have a settled line-up and expect that to continue when they play this decider.
Czech Republic (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Sivok, Michal Kadlec, David Limbersky; Tomas Hübschman, Petr Jiracek; Jaroslav Plasil, Tomas Rosicky, Vaclav Pilar, Milan Baros
Manager: Michal Bilek
Poland(4-2-3-1): Przemysław Tytoń; Lukasz Piszczek, Marcin Wasilewski, Damien Perquis, Sebastian Boenisch; Dariusz Dudka,Eugen Polanski; Jakub Blaszczykowski, Rafal Murawski, L udovic Obraniak; Robert Lewandowski
Manager: Franciszek Smuda
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)
“Each match is extremely important, but probably this is the most important match of my life, and for the whole team. We simply have to remain calm.”
Franciszek Smuda says how important the match is.
“We are enjoying ourselves in Poland, and the Polish fans have supported us, but now it’s us or them, and we’ll do our utmost to achieve our objective. We don’t want to say goodbye to the EURO just yet. “
Michal Bilek, the Czech coach wants the adventure to continue.