Second round officially begins. At this point the matter comes down to which team has the hunger to outlast the other.
The basic survival of the fittest, if a synonym has to be used here in terms of natural selection when it comes to football.
The Greeks came into this after a very entertaining and optimistic opening game against a strong Polish side. Not an easy accomplishment, if that can be used rightly here, to be one goal down, go one man down, score a goal against the round of play, and finally miss a penalty.
The Czech’s, well, with an older squad, is not the same as we had seen in the past. Veteran players like Peter Cech, Tomas Rosicky and Milan Baros were expected to carry the team past through the Greeks.
Today, the Greeks were looking for a much better first half while the Czechs, for a much better 90 minutes.
Both the teams needed a win in order to make their chances of qualifying to the next round, a little more realistic.
Greeks playing without their two first team defenders, S. Papastathopoulos who received a red card and A. Papadopoulos who picked up an injury, succumbed to the constant attack from the Czech offensive line-up. Two goals in the first 6 minutes summed it all up.
To make it all worse, the Greeks had to bring in their back-up GK (M. Sifakis) in the 21st minute.
Baros’s selection in the team raised questions before the start of the game considering the dismal performance he put in the first game; however, the three (Rosicky, Jiracek and Pilar) behind him did a very fine job. Rosicky ran the show for the first half with Greeks having no answer to his constant movement around them.
Czech’s looked super organized and confident compared to their earlier game. That is until Rosicky was replaced in the second half and Peter Cech (referred to as one of the greatest keepers currently playing) and his defense combined to create an unexpected blunder to give the Greeks a narrow sight of hope.
The Greeks, then looked the hungrier of the two with lot more possession of the ball. A second goal was very highly unlikely but they battled through.
Football world: Keep an eye on inspirational winger Vaclav Pilar as the young midfielder will certainly be on the books of the various scouts that are present at the Championships.
The Czech will hope to build up on today’s performance (less Peter Cech’s dreadful miscommunication) as they face Poland on the 16th. They will be looking for a win and anticipating that the Poles lose their bout with the Russians later on today, if they are to have any intentions of qualifying for the next round.
And as for the former European Champions, their final game against Russia will present a small opportunity for them, keeping in mind the results of the other game in the group. Most importantly, it will be about retaining their pride. If they are able to come out with a consolation win against the stronger Russian side, it should lift their hopes high as they head towards the qualifying games for Brazil 2014.