Co-host Poland in must-win game
WROCLAW, Poland - Agence France-Presse
Polish attacker Jakub Blaszczykowski celebrates after scoring the equalizer during the 1-1 draw against Russia in a Euro 2012 Group A game in Warsaw. AFP Photo
It is win or bust for co-host Poland as it takes on the Czech Republic here on June 16 knowing that any other result would see the team exit the European Championship.
Poland may have played well in its two Group A matches but it failed to win either and currently sits third with just two points.
The Czech Republic has three points and failure to win would mean that the Poles could overtake neither the Czechs nor group leaders Russia, who have four points. It means the co-hosts find themselves in a situation that looked highly unlikely after 45 minutes of their opening game against Greece.
A goal and a man to the good and playing vibrant attacking football, Franciszek Smuda’s team looked to be fulfilling the pre-tournament promise that a 2-2 friendly draw with Germany in September had started to foment.
That all looked to be disintegrating as Greece stormed back to snatch a 1-1 draw and could even have won after Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off, giving away a penalty to boot.
The hosts have some injury worries, though, with defender Damien Perquis and midfielders Eugen Polanski and Dariusz Dudka all doubts having suffered injuries against Russia.
While Poland has injury concerns and need to win, the Czechs are exactly the same boat.
It means they too need to win to be sure of progressing but the Czechs have concerns over crucial players, captain Tomas Rosicky and goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Since the Czech Republic split from Slovakia to form an independent country, it has lost every time it has played away to Poland.
However, the last meeting between the sides was a Czech victory in Prague in a World Cup qualifier three years ago.