Published June 11, 2012
| Sports Network
Wroclaw, Poland – The Czech Republic was embarrassed in its Euro 2012 opener against Russia, but can position itself for a knockout berth Tuesday when it continues Group A play against Greece.
Although the Czech Republic will likely not be able to catch Russia at the top of the standings after the 4-1 loss Friday, the second spot in the group would also secure a quarterfinal berth.
With a win over Euro 2004 winner Greece, and some help from Russia against co- host Poland, the Czechs would quickly move from the bottom of the group to the second spot. Then, it would control its own destiny.
"There are three matches in each group, and each match is important," Czech coach Michael Bilek said. "We didn't get a good result in the first one, we have to do better in the remaining two.
"I think our team can give a better account of themselves in the next two games. We're going to look forward now."
That is how quick fortunes can change in the group stage, but first the Czechs have to forget about the Russia match and focus on pesky Greece. Greece earned a 1-1 draw against Poland on Friday.
The Czech Republic was not completely outclassed against group favorite Russia in its opener as Vaclav Pilar scored early in the second half to pull his side within a goal.
Russia, which scored twice inside 24 minutes, added two late goals to seal its deserved win, but the Czech were forced to chase a result when it trailed late in the match.
But the Czech's will not be able to have another off day at Municipal Stadium.
Greece went down a man in the first half of its game against Poland, but still escaped with a 1-1 draw. Although the result was positive, the Greeks may have left points in Warsaw, as Giorgos Karagounis was denied from the penalty spot.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't score, but that's part of football," Greece coach Fernando Santos said.
However, Santos left the fixture pleased with a point, especially after such a poor start and the sending off of Sokratis Papastathopoulos due to two yellow cards in the first half.
Greece also lost defender Avraam Papadopoulos, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament, in the first half and he has since been ruled out of the rest of the tournament.
"If you leave aside the first 20 minutes," Santos said, "when we did all the things we were not supposed to do, I am satisfied."
Like the Czechs, Greece could take control if its own destiny and put one foot in the knockout round with a win, and a little help from Russia. So, expect it to be another exciting day in Group A, even if it does not match opening day.