Jun 16, 2012, 5:03 AM EDT
When Poland met Russia on Tuesday, I opined the match would be the most attractive of Group A’s mini-tournament. The game almost lived up to the billing, but Saturday’s match in Wroclaw will likely eclipse it. Combine Poland and the Czech Republic’s styles and the stakes of their group-closing meeting, we should see a higher scoring version Poland-Russia.
Poland comes into the match needing a win to advance. The Czech Republic also need a win, though depending on the result of Russia-Greece, they could still get through with a draw.
Don’t expect the Czechs to start by playing for that draw. When the first whistle blows at the Municipal Stadium, we’ll likely see a brief feeling-out period before the teams start jumping on their perceived advantages. And as they try to exploit those edges, they’ll will leave themselves open for new attacks.
Unfortunately for the Czechs, their best attacking player will likely miss the match. Tomas Rosicky left Tuesday’s game at halftime with an Achilles problem, and although the team will wait until just before the game (if necessary) to make a final determination, Rosicky failed to train during the week. For a team that’s already having trouble utilizing their striker, losing their best connection to the forward position will be a significant setback.
Which brings us to today’s playlist:
Side 2: Poland vs. Czech Republic
5. Lasted for too long
Striker Milan Baros has been invisible for the Czech Republic through two rounds, but there’s little indication Michal Pilek will go in another direction, especially with so many doubts surrounding Rosicky. Baros, the leading goal scorer at Euro 2004, has an impressive record (41 goals in 91 games) but has been ineffective for some time. Backup Tomas Necid is the future, but he’s also been dealing with injuries. Tomas Pekhart and David Lafata are also options, if unconvincing onces.
Many associate the Czech Republic with an attractive style of play, something which should serve them well on Saturday. With Rosicky injured, it’s unclear they’ll be able to pull off a more progressive approach. If they try, they may end up outgunned, especially if they’re relying on Baros for goals.
6. Trend I have to break
Going back to 2008, Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech has given up a suspect goal in three consecutive Euro matches, an amazing string considering the impecable form he had while Chelsea were winning their first Champions League. Then, Cech was reestablishing his reputation as one of the world’s best `keepers, a reputation that faded thanks in part to the events of 2008. With his troubles four years ago seemingly inspiring a club-world slump, it took Cech a couple of years to return to his best.
Chelsea fans have to be worried the same will happen this year, but first things first. Cech needs to make it through 90 Euro minutes without a howler. While it the Czech Republic could advance despite another mistake, that may only prolong Cech’s agony.
7. Tryin’ on change
Poland came into the tournament projected to play a 4-2-3-1 formation. Against Russia, they switched to a 4-1-4-1, presumably in response to the specific threats Russia offers.
The Czech Republic has a more dangerous attack than Greece (against whom Poland played 4-2-3-1), but they’re not Russia. Will Franciszek Smuda go back to the 4-2-3-1, which was so impressive for the first half hour against Poland? Or will he stay 4-1-4-1, a system that played Russia to a stand still?
It likely won’t matter. The formations can play so similarly, the more important issue may be how Poland plans to use Robert Lewandowski. Against a Czech central defense that has been suspect, Lewandowski could have a big day.
8. (Show me) Your bottom line
Poland has already raised their profile on the international stage, an ascendance that has little to do with their place as co-hosts. They’ve played attractive soccer, and with stars like Lewandowski and captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, they’ve given onlookers the kind of star performances that are easy to latch onto.
But aesthetics only count for so much. In fact, they can be counter productive at this point. Now that Poland has shown their quality, the expectation is they beat the Czech Republic and get out of this group.
For a team that’s drawn both of their games thus far, it’s a significant ask. But it’s also a reasonable one. Looking player for player, there’s no reason that can’t beat the Czechs and secure a place in the quarterfinals, where they’ll likely get a match with Germany.
ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.
May 21, 2013, 8:02 PM EDT
Wait a minute … didn’t MLS commissioner Don Garber say there “is no Plan B …” beyond the Queens location?
May 21, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Well, phooey! Didn’t Dempsey just go through a summer of transfer instability?
May 21, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
This and that as the U.S. contingent preps to gather in Cleveland ahead of five matches over the next few weeks:
May 21, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT
The updated ordering in ProSoccerTalk’s ranking of Major League Soccer teams following 12 rounds of play:
Officials from MLS, Yankees, Manchester City and NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to speak tomorrow on expansion news
May 21, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
How very convenient that Manchester City just happens to be in the States for a brief two-game tour.
May 21, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
It’s really about two things, and not much else:
May 21, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
By forming NYC FC, City and the Yankees have created a ‘sister-club’ relationship – an innovative bond between a Premiership and MLS club.
May 21, 2013, 1:23 PM EDT
Early thoughts on the facility and the ripples of today’s big announcement on the 20th MLS franchise:
May 21, 2013, 11:45 AM EDT
By swapping Dzeko for Cavani, City can hamstring Manchester United and Chelsea, as both are rumored to be seeking a world-class striker.
It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team.
May 21, 2013, 11:16 AM EDT
The league’s 20th franchise will begin play in 2015:
May 21, 2013, 9:33 AM EDT
During his Premiership tenure Toure has proven himself a leader, captaining both the Gunners and the Citizens, as well as Cote d’Ivoire.
May 21, 2013, 8:37 AM EDT
Has Daniel Levy already forgotten about what happened when he tried to pin Luka Modric down with this ‘no sale’ line of bull?
May 20, 2013, 11:58 PM EDT
Expect this one to get worked out.
May 20, 2013, 11:23 PM EDT
If Real Madrid’s going to shake things up, Higuaín could do worse than land at The Emirates.
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
Four players were on the original list. None of them may end up at Stamford Bridge.
May 20, 2013, 8:13 PM EDT
Our sympathy continues to grow for a man in a bad spot.
May 20, 2013, 7:21 PM EDT
MLS will not have arrived until it has a high-profile feces incident.
May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
It probably won’t happen this summer, and if it does … I’m sure we’ll run that into the ground, too.
May 20, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT
For a moment, it looked like Milan had fired their coaching staff … via an open letter from a television show.
- Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market 12
- It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team. 28
- Gareth Bale set to re-sign with Tottenham – But is it a good deal for the Welshman? 7
- Looking back at Week 6 of the NWSL season 2
- Movement in the LA Galaxy-Omar Gonzalez situation 6
- Bigger impact on U.S. soccer growth: David Beckham or Pele? (35)
- It’s official: Manchester City and the Yankees will own and operate Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team. (34)
- Portland ball kid correct to deny Mario de Luna (12)
- Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market (12)
- Notes from today’s big announcement on MLS, NYCFC the Yankees and the rest (11)
- Live Extra: Watch Sharks-Kings, Game 4
- Durant pledges $1 million for tornado victims
- GTC: Garcia offers Tiger 'fried chicken' for dinner
- Andy Murray out of French Open due to back injury
- Golden Super Bowl to Bay Area; LI to Houston
- PBT: Grizzlies aim to stem Spurs' momentum
- CSN: Tiger admits he and Sergio don't get along
- Play Video: Premier League drama set to thrill
- Play Video: Premier League: Real English drama
- Play Video: Highlights: Union outlast Fire
- Play Video: Sir Alex says goodbye
- Play Video: Morgan committed to growth of new women's league
- Play Video: Boy with cancer, 8, scores against major league soccer team