The unlikeliest of outcomes occurred last night with Greece beating Russia to join the Czech Rep in the Quarter-Finals.
A 1-0 win for Greece was enough to see the 2004 Champions qualify from Group A at the expense of group favourites Russia. Both sides ended on 4 points but in this tournament, head to head is a higher ranked tie-breaker than goal difference & therefore Russia are eliminated. Incidentally if goal difference had been used Russia would be in last 8.
I don't think head to heads is the fairest way to settle ties in a group in these tournaments. I think goal difference is a better way as it is more of a reflection on who the best team was over the 3 group games but unfortunately these are the rules and we have to live with them.
Greece are by no means an exciting team to watch. They set their stall out not to lose games, rather than win them. It's not pretty but it is effective & this year we saw Chelsea win the Champions League in much the same fashion. At the end of the day Greece have done what they set out to do & now take their place in the last 8.
Regardless who they play, they will no doubt provide tough opposition & it will take a good performance to break them down.
Czech Rep defeated co-hosts Poland in the other Group A game last night to qualify for the last 8 as group winners. Jiracek got the goal & I have to say he has impressed me in all 3 games they have played. Petr Cech looks to have got some form back & no doubt the clean sheet will do him the world of good.
The Czechs almost missed out right at the end when Poland had a great opportunity which if they had scored, would have sent Russia & Greece through.
As it is however the Czechs will now await the runner-up in Group B in the Quarter-Finals. They have shown a few good touches & now Petr Cech seems to be over his blip in form they have every chance of progressing further.
This is far from the best Czech Rep team we have saw in recent years but once again they have gave a good account of themselves on the European stage.
It is now time to say goodbye to co-hosts, Poland and Russia.
Poland relied heavily on Dortmund pair, Lewandowski & Blaszczykowski. These two were involved in everything positive the Poles done throughout the tournament. Now that the Poles are out the inevitable bidding war for the services of Lewandowski can begin.
Manchester Utd appeared to be the pre-tournament favourites so it will be interesting to see if his performances in these Championships has attracted more interest from other clubs.
Russia on paper were the best team in this group & the tournament is worse off now that Arshavin & Dzagoev are no longer a part of it.
Group A was the weakest of the 4 groups & regardless of who Czech Rep & Greece meet in the Quarter-Finals they will start as outsiders but they have already shown in this tournament that they can be tough to beat & have what it takes to get a result when it matters.