Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Group A - Poland 1-1 Russia

Pre-match Prediction : Host nation back in action tonight against rivals & group favourites Russia.

Poland got off to a superb start against Greece & should have had the game won by half time but they made a few errors & only their replacement goalkeeper made a superb penalty save or they'd have ended up losing. Lewandowski & Blaszczykowski were very impressive in the first half against the Greeks & Poland will need them at their absolute best to get a result tonight.

Russia go into this after probably the most impressive performance from the first round of group games. They defended very well & hit the Czech's with quick counter attacks. Dzagoev & Arshavin were both superb. Kerzhakov however missed a lot of simple chances & is very fortunate to keep his place in the team. Pavlyuchenko scored & set one up in his short time on the field & I expect if Kerzhakov doesn't get to form tonight then the ex-Spurs striker can expect to get a start in the next game.

Poland have the support but I feel they are quite a limited side & believe Russia can pick them off on the counter-attack & qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

Poland 1-3 Russia

Post-match Verdict : This was a decent end to end battle between two sides who now find themselves with their fate in their own hands.

Poland were a lot better than they were on Friday and caused the Russian backline quite a few problems. Only the goalkeeper made a few decent saves or they could have picked up all 3 points in this game. The Borussia Dortmund pair, Lewandowski and Blaszcykowski again looked very sharp with the latter scoring an absolutely fantastic goal to get the Poles back into the game at 1-1. Lewandowski is showing in this tournament the reasons why Manchester United seem so keen to get his signature. Surely Sir Alex Ferguson is watching these Championships with his head in his hands as the price is no doubt increasing with every performance. From what I have saw he reminds me of Alan Shearer in his pomp. He is good in the air, good on the ground and makes the centre-backs life a misery. Some strikers around Europe may not suit the style of the Premier League but Lewandowski looks made for it and I have no doubt that wherever he ends up will be gaining a top quality striker.

Russia weren't as impressive in this game as they were against Czech Rep. To be fair the opposition gave them a much harder time than the Czech Rep did but they didn’t look quite as clinical in this game. Kerzhakov once again was disappointing and surely the time has arrived for Dick Advocaat to assess his options in attack. Arshavin appears to revel in the leadership role he has in the national team and Alan Dzagoev looks like a star but I feel Russia would be better if they went with either Pavlyuchenko or Pogrebnyak up front. Otherwise Russia look like a solid unit and regardless of how far they go in the tournament I think they will always provide stern opposition, even against the very top teams.

Next up for Russia is Greece who have looked poor so far. A win or a draw would see Russia progress & depending on other results they could even progress with a defeat. Given how poor Greece have looked I expect Russia to be in the Quarter-Finals and probably as group winners after beating Greece.

For Poland it is a do or die clash with the Czech Rep. The equation is simple, win and you are in the last 8, lose or draw and the tournament is over. I've no doubt this game will be a cracker & it's a great one for the tournament as it's always good to see the hosts in big games. Win, lose or draw the Polish fams will no doubt create an occasion that will not be easily forgotten.

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