The final day for Group A brings us two matches at the same time, with Greece hoping to surprise Russia and by that secure a place in the quarterfinals while the co-hosts Poland have to win against the Czech Republic in order to keep their nation’s interest in the tournament alive.
Greece – Russia
Pretty simple for both teams – Russia need to win to secure a finish as group winners, but a draw will be enough to secure them a place in the next round. Knowing that Germany probably awaits those who finish second in Group A, it’s seemingly better to go for first.
The Greeks have to win to stay alive, but they’ve hardly shown us during the tournament they’re capable of such a feat. They do get Sokratis back after his two yellow cards in the opener, but their defense and overall play, especially through the first 30 minutes of matches, has been quite short of satisfying. Fighting to come back worked in the first match, but they fell short of the draw in the second.
The other problem is their record against the Russian – Only three wins in 21 meetings, including a 1-0 loss in Euro 2008. The Russians form, with Andrei Arshavin playing like the last couple of seasons never happened, and Alan Dzagoev bursting onto the scene with three goals, poses another huge problems.
Czech Republic – Poland
Win or go home. Poland have played well during stretches in this tournament – The first half against Greece and the second half against Russia. They heavily rely on their Dortmund trio to push them forward, but balls to Robert Lewandowski can’t be the only option for 90 minutes.
Jakub Błaszczykowski will try and build on his fantastic goal against Russia to rally the troops behind him, while Poland should benefit if Adrian Mierzejewski gets the start instead of Obraniak. For the Czech Republic, it’s about trying and keep their defense less exposed to counter attacking by moving the ball quickly and accurately. Tomas Rosicky is the man in charge of that, but he’ll need the help of the industrious Petr Jiracek if the Czechs want to win this one.
Predictions – Greece will start terribly again, but this time it won’t be enough for them. The necessity of a win for them means they’ll have to open up their formation quite a bit, leaving enough space for the Russian counter attacks to finish the job. Poland will have enough in their afterburners to push through the Czechs, who lucked out with a brilliant start against Greece.