Failure to win against Greece in Wroclaw on Tuesday could spell the end of the Czech Republic’s hopes at Euro 2012.
A 4-1 loss to Russia in their Group A opener was disastrous for the Czechs, as their defence was repeatedly torn apart by the likes of Alan Dzagoev and Andrey Arshavin.
But despite the heavy defeat, Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech believes his team can still qualify for the quarter-finals.
“The first game sometimes shows what the group will be like but it’s not the key one,” Cech said.
“The crucial game will be the second one (against Greece). If we fail in that one, our chances of advancing will be very thin.
“A 4-1 defeat doesn’t look the best but it’s basically the same as 1-0…you simply get no points.
“We lost a battle, not the war. The good thing is we still have 180 minutes to advance. We have to look ahead, that’s what matters now.”
All is not lost for Michal Bilek’s side however, with Russia reaching the Euro 2008 semi-finals despite a 4-1 loss, to Spain, in their first match of the tournament.
Winger Vaclav Pilar scored his side’s only goal in their loss in Wroclaw and was the most impressive player for the Czechs, while midfielder Jaroslav Plasil also put in a good performance.
Also in their favour is the fact they will be taking on a battered and bruised Greece side.
Defender Avraam Papadopoulos (left knee) is sidelined for the rest of the tournament while his partner in Greece’s first-choice defence, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, was given a red card and will miss the match through suspension.
Midfielder Giorgos Fotakis (thigh) is also unlikely to play, meaning Greek coach Fernando Santos will need to dig deep into his squad to find capable replacements.
With Papadopoulos and Papastathopoulos both sidelined by half-time and Greece trailing by a goal to Poland in the tournament opener on Friday, it seemed inevitable that Santos’ side would start with a defeat.
But half-time substitute Dimitris Salpingidis scored six minutes into the second-half and Giorgios Karagounis had a chance to give Greece an unlikely lead, only for his penalty to be saved by Poland’s reserve goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton with 20 minutes to go.
Salpingidis also had a goal ruled out in the latter stages, with Konstantinos Fortounis offside in the build-up, as Greece finished strongly against the odds.
Salpingidis’ excellent contribution off the bench makes him likely to start while Kiriakos Papadopoulos is expected to feature at the heart of defence.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!