Czech Republic did exactly what they had to do against Greece on Tuesday by grabbing a vital 2-1 victory, leaving them with a great chance of getting through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
With a heavy loss in their first game against Russia, the Czechs could not have started the game any better against Greece, finding themselves 2-0 up after just six minutes after goals from midfielders Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar. The result leaves them in second place in the group on three points, behind Russia on four. The remaining fixtures of the group see Greece take on Russia, while the Czech Republic plays co-hosts Poland in Wroclaw.
Tomas Rosicky was instrumental to the Czechs’ success against Greece, heavily involved in the lead up to both goals. Unfortunately for the Czech Republic he was forced off at half time with an injury to his heel, and it was no coincidence that the Czechs’ level of play fell away after his departure. Without Rosicky, they lacked any creativity or spark up front, and managed to let Greece back into a game in which they did not deserve to be so close.
As the group stands, if Russia can avoid defeat against Greece, Czech Republic will need just a point in their match against Poland to reach the next stage. Poland have looked impressive so far in the tournament, without achieving the results that some of their play has deserved. If the Czechs are to have any chance of a victory against the Poles, a performance similar to their first half display against Greece will be required. To do that, they will be hoping for their little magician Rosicky to overcome his fitness concerns. Speaking after the Greece game, Czech coach Michal Bilek reinforced the importance of the Arsenal midfielder to his team’s chances:
The Czechs will also need their out-of-form striker Milan Baros to perform to the levels that the coach and the fans know he is capable of. Baros has scored 41 times in 91 international appearances but has barely had an opportunity on goal so far in the tournament. He was booed throughout the game while in possession with the fans beginning to lose faith in the former Liverpool and Villa man.
The Czechs’ main focus must be on team performance no matter how their star striker fairs. Rosicky will be key to qualification for the Czechs, and every fan will be praying for a quick recovery from his latest injury to allow him to captain the team against Poland on Saturday. The co-hosts need a win to qualify and will have to chase the game. The Czechs must stay strong in defence against the Poles, and take their chances when they come.
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