Spirited Poles eye quarter-finals as Warsaw grudge match lives up to billing
Adam Hurrey's crusade to analyse, in excruciating depth, the unique language of football.
As Euro 2012 entered Round 2 of Group Stage action, an emotional evening in Warsaw lived up to hopes as Russia and Poland fought out a tense 1-1 draw. Today our Euro 2012 correspondent Adam Hurrey arrives in Warsaw and reports on last nights action.
Fuelled by another raucous crowd in the capital, the spirited co-hosts came from behind to claim their second draw in Group A, setting up a crucial clash with the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Despite the violent pre-game scenes, with police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse skirmishes between Russian and Polish hooligans, the intense atmosphere in the National Stadium never threatened to spill over. It was Russia who struck the first blow, with Alan Dzagoev scoring his third goal of the tournament with a deft header from Andrey Arshavin's perfectly-swung free-kick. As in their opening game, the elusive Russian forward line were finding space to attack the Polish rearguard,but were unable to assert their authority any further before half-time.
It should have been no surprise to seethe Poles emerge in the second half with greater drive and purpose. Robert Lewandowski, whose immaculate link-up play will have impressed many in the inevitable shop window of a major tournament, forced Vyacheslav Malofeev in two saves before Poland found their breakthrough. Just before the hour, Jakub Blaszczykowski ran on to a through ball and arrowed a left-foot strike in the top corner, which Malofeev had no hope of reaching.
Dick Advocaat's men were unable to mark Russia Day by securing their passage into the quarter-finals, but avoiding a defeat against Greece will see them through. Poland, whose fans lit up Parade Square when the equaliser flew in, face a winner-takes-all showdown with the Czechs in Wroc?aw on Saturday.
Fan's View - Warsaw - Jacek Matysiak
"When Kuba[Blaszczykowski] scored, it was a great moment - it was a big, big game for us and we desperately didn't want to lose to Russia. Now I am worried about the game against Czech Republic. It doesn't feel like only two draws so far. And we don’t want the Ukraine to go through without us!"
Match Preview - Netherlands v Germany
From one great rivalry to another. The usual cliché about "no love lost" doesn't do this one justice - from the 1974 World Cup final to Frank Rijkaard's spit-spat (they are always called spit-spats), there has always been an extra edge between Holland and Germany. Tensions are set to be heightened this time around, with the Dutch toiling in the Group of Death after defeat to Denmark.
Joachim Low's side (2.56 with Betfair) are slight favourites to hammer a second nail into the Dutch's Euro 2012 coffin. Two of European football’s leading strikers this season lead the first goalscorer markets, but Mario Gomez(7/1) and Robin van Persie (17/2) experienced contrasting fortunes in their opening games. After his winner against Portugal in Lviv on Saturday, Gomez is available at 7/1 to be the tournament’s leading goalscorer.
The more cynical among you, however, may find value in the decidedly no-nonsense Nigel de Jong to find his way into the referee's book at 2.78. History suggests sparks are sure to fly in Kharkiv.
Adam will be covering Euro 2012 for the BettingExpert blog with thanks to our friends at Betfair.
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