Saturday is do or die time in Group A when the Czech Republic take on co-hosts Poland as Euro 2012 starts saying goodbye to countries with lesser football teams. Poland looks to make Euro history by reaching the quarterfinals for the first time.
It seems there is no place like (co-)home
as the simple facts ahead of Saturday’s clash have the Czech Republic at 66/1
to win Euro 2012 while Poland are 50/1; the Czechs are 22/1 to reach the final
and Poland are 8/1. Those odds are
getting a bit farsighted as in Group A one of these teams is almost certainly going
out and one is going onwards.
Two near certainties, two TBCs and two
hearts to be broken
Group A already has two “sure things” and
neither involves these teams. Russia with a win and a draw under their belts are
the hot favourites to go through. With just Greece to play on Saturday, the
bookies have the Ruskies at 2/17 to see the quarter finals whereas Greece are the hot favourites to be declared footballingly bankrupt and are 1/4
to finish dead last in Group A. Russia are sitting pretty as they will still
qualify if they lose and the Czech Republic draw with Poland.
The fight for second place in Group A
Technically, all four teams are still
mathematically able to qualify for the quarter-finals, but common sense says
otherwise. As it stands, the Czechs are 2nd on 3 points while Poland are third on 2, this means a draw would see Czech
qualify while Poland need to win, that draw is at Draw 23/10, so it seems the
bookies fancy the Poles.
Don’t back a high scoring game in this
encounter as the sportsbooks have Czech Republic V Poland at 9/1 (least
favourites) to be the highest scoring game in the group. If you want to pick a
correct score go for 1-1 at 5/1, 1-0 at 6/1 to Poland or even (but no higher
than) 2-1 to Poland at 8/1.
Last games, before last chances
The Czechs had two goals in the first six
minutes against Greece for their silver medal position as they ended their
match against the Euro 2004 champions, Greece 2-1 winners. Petr Jiracek opened
the scoring when he converted Tomas Hubschman's pass in the third minute and
Vaclav Pilar then grabbed his second goal of the tournament from two yards
out. However, after scoring twice in the
opening six minutes, the Czechs only managed seven additional attempts on goal,
with one on target. The shots and goals were sufficient as Greece only managed
one shot in the first half, which was blocked, though Giorgos Fotakis did have
the ball in the net only to be ruled offside. After the break, Fanis Gekas
capitalised on a Petr Cech howler to pull one back, but it made little
difference as the Czechs held on.
By comparison Poland produced a stirring
performance in Warsaw and held Russia to a draw, suggesting that they will be
the ones qualifying for the knockout stages.
Russia took the lead after 37 minutes when
Alan Dzagoev turned in Andrey Arshavin's free-kick, but the co-hosts came from
behind during a thrilling second half, with captain Jakub Blaszczykowski
levelling the scores with a thunderous left-foot shot.
Your safest Group A bets
Russia to qualify, Greece not to.
I’m falling in line with the bookies on
this one who have Poland at 6/5 to win this match while the Czechs are at 12/5.
I strongly suggest that you back a Polish win, they need it more and they have
won two of their last three encounters with the Czechs, not to mention the fact
that the Czechs look wobbly at the back.
There are three reasons to back a surprise
Poland have three injury worries ahead of
their final Group A match. Polish defender Damien Perquis suffered a serious
cut to his shin in the draw against Russia, midfielder Dariusz Dudka aggravated
an abdominal strain and Eugen Polanski picked up a badly bruised knee. All
three will be closely monitored before Saturdays’ game.
Let’s leave the last words to Poland’s
captain Blaszczykowski, who is confident his team can make history by reaching
the Euro 2012 quarter-finals for the first time, "We'll do everything we
can. We're tired but happy," he said, "With the
sort of (local) support we had here from the fans, we are capable of achieving
Prediction: Poland win 1-0, see above.