7th June 2012
All eyes will be on the opening game at the Euro 2012 that will see co-hosts Poland take on underdogs Greece at the National Stadium in Warszaw. The Poles are fired up following a good run of results and will have almost 60,000 fans behind them, whereas the visitors hope their defence-oriented tactics would prove enough at least for one point.
Poland had just short of three years to prepare for the European Championship and there are now no doubts the time has been put to a good use. First of all, the national team chiefs did well to persuade the likes of Sebastian Boenisch, Damien Perquis, Eugen Polanski and Ludovic Obraniak to choose Poland over other national teams and these four players are now important members of the starting line-up. Borussia Dortmund trio of Lewandowski, Blaszczykowski and Piszczek are regarded as key players, with the experience they gained while helping the Millionaires win back to back Bundesliga titles likely to play a major role at the tournament finals. The national team looked really well in recent warm up games, beating Bosnia, Latvia, Slovakia and Andorra, while sharing spoils with Portugal, and the record of five straight clean sheets is likely to give them additional boost before the opening game against Greece. Franciszek Smuda and his players are well aware that their opponents are extremely dangerous on the break, meaning we can expect the hosts to attack with caution in their opening game. With Damien Perquis back from an elbow injury, boss Smuda will have his strongest line-up at his disposal.
Even if the Euro 2004 title was a huge success for Greece, that was clearly a one-off result and the national team never even came close to repeating it. The reality is that Ethniki have largely struggled since the tournament finals in Portugal, with an obvious lack of quality coming through the ranks. Greece were pretty convincing in arguably the weakest group of the Euro 2012 qualifiers, mostly thanks to their impressive defensive record that saw them concede just five goals in ten matches. Fernando Santos’ side arrive to the final tournament in confident mood, in spite of some under-par showings in recent friendlies, but their negative tactics is highly unlikely to bring them success this time. Team’s defence have been well below the standard of late, having conceded in five straight games before the 1-0 victory in the final test against Armenia, and with that in mind, I just don’t see how they are going to stop very good Poland side from scoring. Important defender Vasilis Torosidis is doubtful with a knee injury and he is expected to start on the bench.
Poland have quality, form and home field advantage all on their side and maybe they will even get a small help from the referees. The Euro 2012 co-hosts have been looking really good of late and if they want to do something at this tournament, they simply need to win this game. Greece, on the other hand, don’t seem to have what it takes to match the best sides in Europe and I doubt they can avoid defeat in Warszaw.
Verdict: Home win Poland (1)
Best Odds: 11/10