Euro 2012 preview: Greece v Czech Republic

Group A, Wroclaw, kick-off 5pm (coverage starts 4.30pm ITV1)

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Group A’s two clearly inferior teams meet, with the loser almost certainly out of the competition. Greece hold the advantage, having drawn the tournament opener against Poland in a game where a sending-off actually saved them from heavy defeat: losing a man forced them to stop being silly and start defending their left flank properly, after which they grabbed a point. If either team can afford to sit back (as both teams like to), it’s the Greeks.

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The Czech Republic arrive in Wroclaw after receiving a proper doing over from Russia on Friday night. But Greece won’t swarm all over the Czechs like the Russians did, and they won’t be able to shut playmaker Tomas Rosicky out of the game so effectively. Average as the Czech Republic are – in qualifying, left-back Michal Kadlec was their top scorer, with 4 – this is their chance to show what they can do. 

There’s a bit of history in this match too: the last time the teams played in the Euros it was the 2004 semi-final, when neutrals were dismayed to see the flying Czechs’ flair blunted by Greece’s party-pooping defence.

PAPADOPOULOS WATCH: Avraam Papadopoulos was badly injured against Poland and has left the squad. That’s not too bad as he’ll be replaced by Kyriakos Papadopoulos, but after that the Greeks are all out of Papadopouloses. There’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos, but he’s suspended.

COULD DO BETTER: Vastly experienced Greek midfielder Giorgos Karagounis is known for his set pieces, but they were atrocious on Friday, not least his penalty which could have given his side an unlikely win but was saved by the Polish reserve keeper who’d just come on.

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PREDICTION: The Czech Republic will look like a different side to the one that was eaten alive by Russia, but might not have enough to break the determined Greeks down. 1-1.