Czech Rep. v Poland preview: Polish tactics won't surprise Czechs

Reuters, Saturday 16 Jun 2012

Poland coach Franciszek Smuda is counting on a mix of strong defence and fluid counter-attacking in their final group match on Saturday against a Czech team who will be wary about not falling for the same trick twice at Euro 2012

Rosicky and Lewandowski
Rosicky and Lewandowski

Poland's glory days in the 1970s and 1980s were based on that style of play and it was the model Smuda's men adopted in an exhilarating second-half performance against Russia which earned the co-hosts a 1-1 draw.

Smuda plans to stick to his guns even though the Czechs may not take the bait after showing against Greece they were content to sit back following a stunning 4-1 loss to Russia who soaked up early pressure before launching devastating counter-strikes.

"We do not need to (be more attacking)," Smuda said. "The Italians only defend and they seem to able to win as well. Why shouldn't we?"

Russia top the group with four points after a 1-1 draw with Poland ahead of the Czech Republic on three, Poland with two and Greece one.

An exhilarating comeback against the Russians has buoyed one of the tournament hosts to believe Smuda's squad are capable of doing what no other Polish side has done before - win a game at a European Championship.

"We know that the Czechs can make do with a draw," striker Robert Lewandowski said. "We need to win. We can say that we are getting better and better with each game and we hope the third time is a treat."

Poland are also struggling with injury worries but not as severe as the Czechs, who are sweating over the fitness of captain and playmaker Tomas Rosicky.

The playmaker, whose creativity and passing skills fuel the Czech attack, injured his Achilles in the 2-1 win over Greece and said he could barely stand on Wednesday.

Team officials said Rosicky's fitness was improving but he is still doubtful for Saturday. The team received better news on Petr Cech's sore shoulder when the goalkeeper said he would be ready to play.

"I will be fine," Cech said on Thursday. "The only question mark is about Rosicky."

The Czechs, who will also have thousands of their own fans at the stadium less than an hour's drive from the border, also need to find a way to keep up pressure for a full 90 minutes.

Against Russia, the Czechs had the early run of play until the Russians took over and after a stunning first six minutes against Greece that brought them two goals the Czechs had a nervy ride in hanging on for a 2-1 win.

The Czechs have not fared well recently against the Poles, losing to their central European neighbours in three of the four past meetings.

"We hope we will start the same way we did the first two games," Cech said. "Against Russia we were unable to score and we need to capitalize the way we did against Greece."


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