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Czech Republic V Poland : UEFA Euro 2012 Match Preview
Published : 16 Jun 2012 15:00:32
Co-hosts Poland face must-win game
It is win or bust for co-hosts Poland as they take on the Czech Republic on Saturday knowing that any other result would see them exit the European Championship.
Poland may have played well in their opening two Group A matches but they failed to win either and currently sit third with just two points.
The Czech Republic have three points and failure to win would mean that the Poles could overtake neither the Czechs nor group leaders Russia, who have four points.
A goal and a man to the good and playing vibrant attacking football, Franciszek Smuda's team looked to be fulfilling the pre-tournament promise that a 2-2 friendly draw with Germany in September had started to foment.
It has been a bumpy ride so far for the hosts but Smuda is confident his side can get the result they need and continue in the competition.
"I'd like for the best to be yet to come, and I'd have nothing against it being in the match with the Czech Republic," he said.
Poland have some injury worries, though, with defender Damien Perquis and midfielders Eugen Polanski and Dariusz Dudka all doubts having suffered injuries against Russia on Tuesday.
An abdominal strain has made Dudka the most doubtful of the three while Perquis is recovering from a gashed shin and Polanski is suffering from a bruised knee.
"Our match with the Czechs is crucial, perhaps our most important in recent years," said midfielder Rafal Murawski.
"We have to win it, and we mean to win it. The Czechs are within our range."
While Poland have injury concerns and need to win, the Czechs are in almost exactly the same boat.
They could qualify with a draw but only if Greece don't beat Russia, otherwise they will be out.
It means they too need to win to be sure of progressing but they have concerns over two crucial players, captain Tomas Rosicky and goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Arsenal midfielder Rosicky is the bigger doubt after what he believes is a recurrence of a calf injury he suffered in the final Premier League game of the season forced him to miss the second half of their 2-1 win over Greece.
Chelsea goalkeeper Cech has a sore shoulder and is desperate to play to make up for his gaffe that allowed the Greeks a route back into a match in which the Czechs had established an early two-goal lead.
"The blunder looks comic, but such things happen in football," said Cech after dropping a cross that allowed Fanis Gekas to score.
"I believe this was enough. I won't make a silly mistake like this again."
Since the Czech Republic split from Slovakia to form an independent country, they have lost every time they have played away to Poland.
However, the last meeting between the sides was a Czech victory in Prague in a World Cup qualifier three years ago.
Czech Republic V Poland - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.