Euro 2012 finally kicks off in Warsaw’s National Stadium as Poland play Greece, opening the tournament and the Group A competition, and later we’ll get the chance to probably see a better match, with Russia and the Czech Republic going at each other in Wroclaw at the Miejski Stadium.
Poland – Greece
This group includes the highest amount of matches the neutrals don’t want to see. Greece has a tendency to do that to your soccer desire. Fernando Santos’ side was the lowest scoring team in the qualifying with 14 goals (1.4 per match) and the philosophy of counter attacking, 10 men behind the ball and relying on set pieces is still there. There is flair – Samaras and Sotiris Ninis are the gateway to creativity, but in general, it’s hard to expect fireworks from this side.
Poland, after all, are dreaming of somehow winning this one. We’ve picked them to make it into the knockout stage, and you never know what will happen from there. The problem for Poland is a lack of footballing identity. True, they’re relying on the Dortmund trio of Lewandowski, Kuba and Lukasz Piszczek to be the guiding light for this team. Still, Franciszek Smuda hasn’t really embraced any tactic for his team to play in, and that might cause this side to look a bit of a mess early on.
Prediction – Poland are the better side and will probably see more of the ball and opportunities, but opening games come with jitters and surprises many times. We see a 1-1 draw to to open the tournament.
Russia vs Czech Republic
On the other hand, this group does have a very attack-minded Russian team and a Czech Republic side that might not be packed in quality, but does try and play positive football, relying heavily on the form of Tomas Rosicky. Still, it doesn’t mean they’ll score plenty of goals, netting only 15 of them during the qualifying tournament, which included two defeats against Spain.
For Russia, it’s about fulfilling potential. Advocaat has a pretty impressive stock of strikers on his side, but Aleksandr Kerzhakov has the most credit, for good reason, and will spearhead the 4-3-3 with Arshavin and Dzagoev on his wings, supporting him. Russia have that dark horse aura to them this time, with people relying on what they brought to the table four years ago. We’re tending to think it’s going to be enough to win Group A.
Prediction – We’ll see more in this match than the opener. Russia should have enough to win by a goal, as opening matches for every team seem to be a more cautious affair.
Game Time – Poland and Greece take on at 18:00 (Local time) at the National Stadium in Warsaw. Russia and the Czech Republic follow at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw at 20:45.