Continuing the serious of, frankly, incongruous United Rant Live blogs during 2012, we’ll be covering the conclusion to Group A on Saturday night! There’s everything to play for in the ‘group of bored to death’, which turned out anything but.
Russia need only draw with Greece to qualify for the quarter finals, although a win will secure top spot in the group. Should Russia draw then the Czech’s could still finish top by beating Poland, and if the unthinkable happens and Greece beat Russia then Dick Advocaat’s men will be out unless there is a draw in the other fixture.
The Czech’s, meanwhile, can secure qualification with victory over Poland. A draw may be enough though, should Russia beat Greece as expected. Meanwhile, Poland must win or the co-hosts are out whatever happens in the other game. Finally, Greece can only qualify with victory and hope that Poland and the Czech Republic draw.
Join us for both games live from around 7pm UK time, with team news updates and pre-amble through the afternoon. There’s no Manchester United interest in this one, but the drama should be great nonetheless.
Paul - Saturday 21:45
And it’s goodnight from him…
Night folks – amazing scenes! Thanks for hanging out with us for it – let us know if you enjoyed it.
Ed - Saturday 21:44
What a night of drama all round. Russia and Poland out. Greece and the Czech Republic through. Who’d have thunk it, eh?
The Greeks have stripped naked and they’re rolling around on the pitch. (Rant’s heard about that kind of thing in Greece – young ‘uns avert your eyes!).
Well it’s been fun. It’s good night from me. Thanks so much for joining us. We’ll be back with another one of these soon!
Paul - Saturday 21:42
Is doing a little Petr Jirajig. Dancing Czech players, very disappointed looking Polish players. The Czech Republic WIN THE GROUP, proving once again that Johnathan Wilson knows about stuff.
Poland absolutely fell apart in that second half. Very poor.
Ed - Saturday 21:40
Lackadaisical, part 2
Well the Russians suddenly find some urgency in injury time. Dick Advocaat must be absolutely furious with his players’ performances tonight. Dzagoev blasts high and wide. The Greek bench gathers together for the celebration….
….. and they charge onto the field. GREECE WIN and knock Russia out of the tournament. Some absolutely stunning results tonight. Greece and Czech Republic head through. Who picked that one. You’d have gotten some great odds in the accumulator.
Russia only needed one point. They didn’t show the urgency, they didn’t show the desire.
Greece – all about the desire. The tactics were hugely negative, but as Roy Hodgson keeps saying “disciplined” teams can beat the technical sides. And they did.
Remember too, Greece robbed of a stonewaller of a penalty. Credit where it is due.
(The Russian ladies are crying, the Greek ladies are dancing). Rant’s off to console/celebrate!
Paul - Saturday 21:39
THAT’S IT! !!!Â
Amazing stuff for Greece and the Czech Republic. Absolutely amazing!!! Very happy for the Czech Republic who THOROUGHLY deserved their win tonight.
Scenes. Amazing. Amazing. Scenes.
Paul - Saturday 21:38
OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME!!!
BÅ‚aszczykowski is JUST about to score whenÂ Kadlec clears brilliantly from the line. Keeping them in in the game. Nerves now for the Czech Republic, as every Czech is linked arms, doing the Zorba dance, smashing plates, eating stuffed vine leaves and praying to Zeus!
Ed - Saturday 21:36
One last throw of the dice….
Three minutes of injury time to go. Can. Russia. Do. It? Nerves in Greece must be absolutely shredded.
Paul - Saturday 21:35
Such fine margins
If Poland nick one, this will be absolutely heart breaking for the Czech Republic and very very harsh.
Ed - Saturday 21:34
It’s such a good word, although rather hard to spell right in a live blog. But it sums up Russia’s performance tonight. Unbelievably lackadaisical.
Paul - Saturday 21:34
They’ve been completely rubbish in this half – unable to retain possession or assert themselves on the game at all. The few chances they’ve had they haven’t looked like doing anything at all with. And their discipline is completely shot, hacking down Czech players in a slightly depressing way. Not covering themselves in glory with their mentality, which is a real shame given how generally impressive they’ve been.
Ed - Saturday 21:32
They’ll be dancing on the streets of Athens tonight
Just no parties, ok. It’s austerity time remember and like the BBC it’s not ok to be seen to spend money or the IMF will be on to you!
Paul - Saturday 21:31
Legitimately just did really well down the right hand side, retaining possession for ages when he had no right to. Good lad,Â FrantiÅ¡ek Rajtoral.
Ed - Saturday 21:31
Clearly faking an injury to waste some time. The referee, rightly, makes him go off. He literally LEAPS off the stretcher once off and then pretends to limp. Oh puuuuuurleeeeease!!
Paul - Saturday 21:30
Much as we all love a bit of handbags
It’s pretty darned irresponsible to start a scrap if you’re a host nation about to go out of a tournament.
I understand that there’s a scrap in the other game too! Simultahandbag.
Ed - Saturday 21:28
Sotoris Ninis On
Remember him? Constantly linked with United a year or so ago. He suffered a really bad knee injury which set him back a few months but he’s on now…
… meanwhile at the other end a fine ball in from Arshavin and Dzgoev only inches away from equalising with the header and sending Russia through.
(Russian lady watch: they’re upset. Need a shoulder?)
Paul - Saturday 21:27
Petr JirÃ¡Äek comes off
I guess I’ll have to copy another name into my pc’s buffer.Â FrantiÅ¡ek Rajtoral who’s just come on for him will do. Go onÂ FrantiÅ¡ek Rajtoral! HopeÂ FrantiÅ¡ek Rajtoral makes a good impact on this game.Â FrantiÅ¡ek Rajtoral is a more defensive minded player.
Paul - Saturday 21:25
“This has been boring, but more professional”
Mick manages to make boring sound like a complement. Wonder if the powers that Beeb will be happy with him calling their Â£35m rights acquisition as boring?
Ed - Saturday 21:25
The Tactical Nuances
Honest…. of the Greek’s system for the last ten minutes of this game…
Paul - Saturday 21:23
Petr JirÃ¡Äek (again)
Gets an absolute WHACK from a shot from Pisczech. Right on the top of his head. I think he’s bleeding from the head as Mick McCarthy tells him to stop being a sissy. Oh no, it’s not blood, it’s just an errant lock.
In fairness to Mick, he owns the fact that whilst he would have got up quicker, he’d have missed the chanceÂ JirÃ¡Äek took if it had fallen to him.
Ed - Saturday 21:23
Was the mosaic Manchester United fans unveiled during the Champions League final in Moscow. Russia could do with something similar. ALL the belief has drained away from the Russians now. There’s still plenty of time but Advocaat’s men seem to have run out of ideas.
And what a remarkable story from Greece. Two down in the second game and surely out of the tournament. But as it stands Fernando Santos’ men going through. They’ve earned it even if the football isn’t good. Ah that 7-3-1 formation. Memories of 2004….
Paul - Saturday 21:21
Poland need two
If they score one, they just send Russia through, I think. Right? Someone help me – maths is hard!
Paul - Saturday 21:20
Really can’t overstate how impressive his goal was. Absolutely busted a gut to catch up with the play, and the cool finish. Wonderful stuff from a man with wonderful hair.
Ed - Saturday 21:20
Rant isn’t big on stereotypes but we’ve read plenty of spy novels here. John Le Carré central. And we know what happens to Russians who fail the motherland.
Paul - Saturday 21:19
It’s a campaign of six halves
@honigstein has just tweeted “Poland don’t seem to have a good 90 mins in them. patchy, throughout the tournament. lack of fitness?”
They were excellent in the first half against Greece, poor in the second, Â then poor in the first half and excellent in the second half against Russia, and here were the better side in the first half tonight, but have been abject in the second. Czech Republic well deserve their lead.
Ed - Saturday 21:17
The Fulham striker is on. It’s proper desperation stuff now… and at a time when Greece are much more in this game. It’s hard to turn it on and off. Russia dominated the opening hour of this game but with such a casual style that they will only have themselves to blame.
Great stuff in group A even if this isn’t the best game. Drama.
Paul - Saturday 21:16
ANDY CARROLL CHANGES EVERYTHING!Â
Well, ok, it was actually PetrÂ JirÃ¡Äek. A fantastic break – he ran fast and hard most of the length of the pitch to get there in the nick of time before Baros gave the ball away. Milan managed to hold it up just long enough forÂ JirÃ¡Äek to catch up with him, and he tucks away a very nice finish.
So, Greece and the Czech Republic as it stands. Who had that in an accumulator?
Ed - Saturday 21:15
All action now!
Great free kick Tzavelas who nearly scored with a free kick. Then as Tzavelas went to retrieve the ball which had gone out for a throw Dzagoev hacks him down and gets a yellow. Horrible tackle and he misses the next game… although since the Czech’s have just scored Russia are going out anyway.
Czechs – 6
Greece – 4
Russia – 4
Poland – 2
Ed - Saturday 21:13
The referee, Jonas Eriksson, is a billionaire from Sweden. I guess that’s what you call f*ck you money!
Profile from Goal.com:
Despite having been a FIFA accredited referee for the past 10 years, Jonas Eriksson travels to Poland and Ukraine this summer to officiate in his first major international tournament.
The 38-year-old is not like any other referee. After selling his 15 percent stake in Swedish media rights business IEC over five years ago, he became a multimillionaire. However, despite his vast wealth, the Swede continues to officiate in his homeland as well as across the continent, insisting that he is spurred on by his love of the game and his favorite hobby.
â€œAll the money hasn’t changed anything, the best thing I do in my life is still refereeing football,â€ he says.
Eriksson became a professional referee in 1994 before taking charge of his first Allsvenskan game six years later. He received his FIFA badge in 2002 and participated in his first international competition later that year, overseeing games in the group stages as well as a semifinal of the 2002 Under-17 European Championships. Over the next six years he officiated in UEFA Cup, Europa League and Champions League matches as well as European Championship and World Cup qualifiers until he was promoted to UEFAâ€™s elite category at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season.
Paul - Saturday 21:12
Going out with a whimper
Tonight is the Group A we were all expecting before the tournament, teams really struggling to score, even when they are not exactly up against top quality defenses. If Baros was as good as Euro 2004 made us all think he was, then the CR would be about 18-0 up. Poland have offered absolutely nothing whatsoever in this second half.
Paul - Saturday 21:09
Change in atmosphere
The Polish fans rousing themselves again, but you can hear the desperation in the singing.
Ed - Saturday 21:09
Honestly can’t understand how the ref could book Karagounis for diving when it was a clear trip. How could the referee be sure? Logically, he simply couldn’t and and just guessed. In truth that’s not only poor refereeing but disgraceful refereeing because he’s made a decision not based on seeing something but making an assumption. Jonas Eriksson, from Sweden, really shouldn’t get another game in this tournament.
Paul - Saturday 21:08
Titanic save from Tyton
Right place in the right time from the Polish keeper, and heÂ justifiesÂ his selection ahead of the Arsenal Lolmeister. First ball in just hits him and then he punches the ball clear very quickly when it was bouncing dangerously. It’s absolutely all the Czech Republic here.
Paul - Saturday 21:06
It’s got less interesting
Which was not what I was predicting. Just spent a good 45 seconds staring at a slow motion replay of a very very unhappy looking Greek man on my silent stream of Greece Russia.
Ed - Saturday 21:06
Karagounis is booked for silmulation but the Greeks are absolutely furious about this and rightly so. It’s a clear trip on the Greek captain. To rub salt into the would Karagounis is booked and will miss the next game if Greece qualify for the next round. Extremely poor refereeing and a real moment of controversy. The second time in this tournament that Greece have been hard done by…
Paul - Saturday 21:05
Foul centimetres outside of the penalty area – terrible challenge fromÂ Wasilewski and a golden opportunity for the Czech republic. Level with the 6 yard box on the left hand side,Â PlaÅ¡il lofts it in and it’s dealt with well by the Polish back 7. (I think Poland need to get a bit more attack minded, if it’s not clear.)
Ed - Saturday 21:04
Brilliant run down the right hand side from the Greek midfielder and somehow Anukov gets it over his own bar for a corner. Very very close to 2-0 then. It wouldn’t be deserved on the balance of play but that was a fine run and cross. And then it’s close from Salpangidis from the corner at the far post…
Still no urgency from the Russians. Advocaat’s men walking a real tightrope here.
Paul - Saturday 21:02
Dudka is the only player in the Polish squad with over 50 caps for his country. Inexperienced.
Ed - Saturday 21:01
Russia… actually not heading out
As it stands the Russians actually top the group on head-to-head goal difference. But one goal from either Poland or the Czech Republic and the Russians are in trouble.
Paul - Saturday 21:01
Ed – Russia are through as it stands, I think – Cze and Pol going out, no?
Paul - Saturday 20:59
Gebre Sellasie mistimes his run.Â
That’s just a fact. Not a pun of any kind. It just happened.
Ed - Saturday 20:59
And it goes at least 30 yards wide – truly awful effort from the former Tottenham Hostpur striker. This really doesn’t bode well for the Russians. It’s striking that there’s a lack of urgency – the game has been SLOW SLOW SLOW from the start. It feels as if Russia just assumed that they would prevail and don’t have a plan B now that its all gone a bit pear shaped.
Paul - Saturday 20:58
They’re really struggling to get into this second half, the Czech Republic needing a win has not lead to a load of space to play in, rather it’s lead to the Czech Republic looking like the more dangerous and dominant side.
Paul - Saturday 20:57
Magnets in the side netting
Limbersky with a terrible waste for the Czech Republic, and the side netting on that goal is getting a hammering tonight.
Ed - Saturday 20:56
Shirokov with the chance
But the Russian midfielder fires over with his left foot from about 15 yards. In truth a difficult chance on the half volley, but there’s only 40 minutes to go and Russia are out as it stands!
Paul - Saturday 20:55
Big Mick (Again)Â
“He’s uncompromising, shall we say. That’s another word for dirty, actually.”
I like him.
Paul - Saturday 20:54
I find him quite soothing. I’m not sure what that says about my psyche.
Ed - Saturday 20:54
Pavlyuchenko is on
Can Russia do anything in this second period. Advocaat’s men completely dominated the first half, but still trail with five minutes of the second period. Pavlyuchenko is the only change on either side and there’s no change in formation on either team either.
Paul - Saturday 20:52
The longer this goes on…
The more I’m finding myselfÂ just out and out supporting Poland. I’m getting carried away by the atmosphere. It feels like it’s coming.
Paul - Saturday 20:50
Apologies for not being able to look up the gentleman’s name, due to doing three things at once, but he has a very nice unfussy card flourishing style, which is always good to see. #Insight
Paul - Saturday 20:49
When there’s a game where one team needs a draw and the other needs a win, and then that changes and they both need to win, I think that slightly favours the team that needed to win all along, because they don’t have to change their mentality.
Paul - Saturday 20:47
This is so well balanced. Come on you footballll!
Paul - Saturday 20:46
As it stands
4, 4, 4, 3 !!! Russia and Greece going through, with Russia topping the group. How hard will they be trying now? Of course, as soon as anyone scores in this game it all changes. Scenes!!
Ed - Saturday 20:45
Insert your own ‘This is Sparta’ joke here! Gerard Butler/Georgious Samaras having a shocker out on the left wing though.
Paul - Saturday 20:44
Against the Marathon of play
Greece score, not just against the run of play, but against an entire marathon of play, which makes it a super, super interesting second half here, as now the Czechs will have to go for it. That humdinger I was hoping for might be coming.
Ed - Saturday 20:41
Will we see one of them on in the second half. Neither is as mobile as Kershakov, but the Zenit St. Petersburg is ‘having one’ in the footballers’ parlance. Russia need to do something or they are heading home. Quite unbelievable really considering how good Advocaat’s men were in the opening game.
Ed - Saturday 20:37
Robbie Savage’s Hair
Is absolutely SHOCKING. An utter utter disgrace. If you’re going to go blonde…. go blonde. But long blonde hair on top, with dark underneath, makes you look like a total c [/ cut: decency editor]
Ed - Saturday 20:34
Greece score, quite inexplicably! Greece captain Karagounis slams the ball through Malanfeev’s legs from the throw in. It’s only Greece’s second shot at goal. Greece has been horribly, horribly negative for the entire first half, but the Mediteraneans score right on half-time. Amazing stuff…. echoes of 2004 all over again.
The Russians, meanwhile, will be totally sick with that.
Russia 13 – 2 Greece
Russia 0 – 1 Greece
Ed - Saturday 20:32
These are the key events during the Russia – Greece match so far… we sh*t you not!
Paul - Saturday 20:31
@LizWorsley says: “playing a drinking game by having a sip every time Big Mick says “Pisscheck” in Yorkshire accent”. I am recommending that any readers doing that should ensure they take a sip of water every time he saysÂ BÅ‚aszczykowski.
Half time. Very absorbing game, not quite exploded yet, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if the second half turned into a bit of a humdinger.
Paul - Saturday 20:29
When Mick McCarthy says “Zonal Marking” he says it in the manor of a 67 year old man who has just discovered the internet saying “blogging”. Like it’s this new fangled thing he’s recently heard of. Actually, cast your mind back to Fergie being interviewed by DJ Spoony – the way he said Spotify. That’s what I mean.
Ed - Saturday 20:26
Although the Beed commentator does call him Jerk-off, which we know is not a term of endearment amongst our brethren from the United States. Not polite aunty Beeb.
Away from that nonsense the Russian left-back just had a shot. Yes, an actual shot. Excitement! Attacking football!
Paul - Saturday 20:26
As befits a side with Milan Baros running the show up front, the Czech Republic are having difficulty finding their final third mojo.
Paul - Saturday 20:24
The Calm During The Storm
Feels like something is coming, as the Czechs play Cattenacio and mousenacio with Poland.
Ed - Saturday 20:23
War, uh huh, what is it gooood for?
Might liven up this game. We’re starting our own Mexican Wave at Rant Towers…
Paul - Saturday 20:23
Ed – using quote in the most inaccurate way possible there. You forgot to add “made up” before it.
Paul - Saturday 20:22
The Polish Right Flank
Anyone who’s watched them so far in this tournament won’t be surprised that Poland look at their most dangerous whilst galavanting down the right. Everything goes out that way. Obranyiak andÂ BÅ‚aszczykowski link up so well out there, but both pop on the left too. They do look dangerous, but as big Mick’s just pointed out, there’s a lot of tactical caution in their attack, as they’re not piling numbers forward. I guess they’re operating with the view that the opposition defense is porous enough that they don’t have to pile men forward to create chances.
Ed - Saturday 20:21
What was that Otto Rehhagel quote… playing for a draw when you desperately need a win was a mix of ‘football and performance art’? They’re not that far off that right now – Greece desperately needing a win to have any chance of going through have barely worked the ball across the half-way line in the past 20 minutes. You know you’ve got to win, lads? No, really.
Ed - Saturday 20:17
The Russians are wonderfully flexible up front – Arshavin and Dzagoev have no set positions at all. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes left, often in the centre. Kershakov’s more central, but he’s not traditional number nine at all. He’s not scored yet, Kershakov, but his movement helps the Russian team and it’s easy to spot why Advocaat might want him in the team rather than Pavlyachenko, who is far less mobile.
Paul - Saturday 20:16
Every time he gets referred to, I am sad that the commentators don’t call him “the most ‘igh imperial right back” or similar.
Paul - Saturday 20:15
No mullets, but the torrential conditions definitely favouring the long haired wildman look over the pretty boy sculpted look. That heavily favours the Czechs.
Ed - Saturday 20:14
An illustration of the point made earlier that the Greeks are being pushed back. Greece on the left camped outside their own area. Russia on the right, with the average starting position much higher up the pitch…
Paul - Saturday 20:12
That’s some thunderous thunder thundering in Poland. On the pitch the players are managing to stay impressively upright given how wet the pitch looks. It’s quite an absorbing game so far, Poland definitely had more of the chances, but both sides should have scored.
Ed - Saturday 20:10
It’s not the tidiest game at the moment, with quite a few attacking moments breaking down unnecessarily. Russia in control of the match though. They’ve pushed high up the pitch, forcing Greece back into their penalty area. There’s an opportunity for Greece to play the ball over the top with Russia’s back-four keeping a high line, but the Greeks aren’t blessed with pace in attack. Nor pace anywhere to tell the truth.
Paul - Saturday 20:08
Not quite at life threatening levels yet, but it’s absolutely tipping it down in Poland. As always on occasions like this, it adds a level of pathetic fallacy, a dramatic backdrop for the ebbs and flow of the Â emotions of a nation.
Ed - Saturday 20:04
The Dilbert Principle
Let’s be honest Georgeos Samara is a horrible forward. Poor touch, no pace, no composure in front of goal, and a terrible haircut. You could say that his ;’success’ is all down to the Peter Principle in action – you know, he’s been promoted to his level of incompetence.
Well Greece manager Fernando Santos has taken on the Dilbert Principle in this match – he’s promoted Samaras to a position he can do the least damage…. left wing!
Paul - Saturday 20:03
Is he AC or Inter?
Paul - Saturday 20:01
Big Mick > Lawro
Mick owning his past as a Yorkshireman who played for and managed Ireland, not having a pop at players playing for countries other than where they were born.
Ed - Saturday 20:01
What is it about sports cameramen the world over that they feel the need to pick out, well, the young attractive girls in the crowd. We’ve had several in Russia – Greece and a couple at Poland – Czech Republic. Quality you ask? Well Rant couldn’t comment. What? You insist. Ok then… Russia/Greece 1-0 Poland/Czech Republic
Ed - Saturday 19:59
Multi Screen Nonsense
One game on the big telly on the wall, one game on the iPad, stats on one PC, images and twitter through the other. Yeah, four screens that’s how cool we are at Rant Towers.
But, and UEFA didn’t think about this, both games feature one team with a white strip and one with a red… isn’t half a strain on the eyes.
Paul - Saturday 19:59
Dear all commentators, pundits, co-commentators, uninformed fans.Â
If you’re “wondering what the officials behind the goals do?” then FLIPPIN WELL DO SOME FLIPPIN RESEARCH.
Paul - Saturday 19:58
The Czech Republic just tried to play on after a clear and massive foul. Just hoping the ref would take their word for it.
Ed - Saturday 19:57
Sifakis forced into his first save from Arshavin. Good chance, good effort with Arshavin’s toe and a smart save. Greece have started well, in a slow tempo game, but there’s a real sense that Russia can step this up at any point in the game. Lots of technically strong players in this Russia side and they’re opening up Greece already.
Paul - Saturday 19:56
The other side of the netting!Â
Lewandoski! Let ‘em offski more like! He really should have done better there, slightly skewing his shot as he gets a tiny knock from the most ‘igh right back Gabre Sellasie. Very dangerous chance, and the home crowd are rocking.
Paul - Saturday 19:54
Twice for Poland so far, and there were classic “half the ground thought that was in” scenes both times. They’ve started brightly but the Czechs missed a heck of a chance.
It’s an oddÂ positionÂ for the Czechs to be in – a draw is likely to be enough, unless Greece surprise Russia. It doesn’t seem likely that they will, but playing for a draw is dangerous enough when you only have to worry about your own result, let alone another game.
Ed - Saturday 19:54
Aleksandr Anyukov took quite a blow to the head here and we’ve been stopped for four minutes. All the players are taking in fluids – is it hot. Apparently.
We restart with a drop ball, with the Russia player kicking it out for a (somewhat unsporting) throw in. Russia still down to ten for the time being. Looked nasty.
Ed - Saturday 19:50
Very promising young player, say the Beeb commentators. Indeed he is – has done very well in the Bundesliga over the past year. Young, inexperienced for sure, but all the raw qualities to be a very high quality defender. Beast of a player, who has done very well since coming into the side for the unfortunate Avram Papadopoulos during the first game.
Paul - Saturday 19:49
The liveblog lives or dies by its feedback! Tweet me @utdrantcast , Ed @unitedrant or leave a comment below if you have any witty and or insightful things to say.
Both games have teams in sort of red vs teams in sort of white, which makes following both at once very confusing! (that’s an example of insightful).
Ed - Saturday 19:48
Five seconds into the game and Russia get the opening chance with Alan Dzagoev offered a shooting opportunity 25 yards out. Good chance too, before the youngster absolutely lashed at an air shot!! Lols all round in Warsaw!
Paul - Saturday 19:46
Doo doo doo do do do do do. Dooooooooo.
If Carol Vorderman, that new lady who’s a United fan or the band Europe isn’t involved, there should be no countdowns for things.
Ed - Saturday 19:44
Away We Go
Russia will want to win this one with Germany surely lying in wait… expect a performance from the Russians tonight. After performing so brightly in the opening two games it would be a crime to throw away the group now. For Greece it is surely more about pride than qualification now. There’s some good players in Greece and, arguably, the Greeks haven’t done themselves justice to date.
Paul - Saturday 19:43
After decrying the shocking co-commentary on the tournament so far, I am delighted to report that for those of us lucky enough to be watching on the BBC, we’ve got big Mick McCarthy in the booth. Keano may have not rated him as a player, or a manager, but given the paucity of competition, I rate him reasonably well as a co-com. He’s just declared unabashed support for Poland. I would make some kind of joke about how he wants to keep his builder onside, but I’m afraid that sounds weirdly un pc, so instead I’ll couch in it a phrase which places it firmly in the post modern camp, in case anyone worries.
Paul - Saturday 19:39
Both games on the go.Â
One on the telly, one on the internet. Whilst live blogging. This is clearly the future.
Paul - Saturday 19:37
Evening Ed, Evening Everybody
I’ve talked myself into a problem this evening. Normally I rely on Ed to be well informed about the players, tactics, coaches and football in general so I can say “amusing” things about the players hairstyles.
I’m watching Poland vs the Czech Republic – Poland have been interesting so far in this tournament – to paraphrase Roddy Doyle in The Van, talking about Ireland in Italia 90, they lost the first game 1-1 then won the second 1-1. The Czech Republic just properly lost the first game and won the second. They were truly appalling against Russia, although at 2-1 they had chances to get back into it. They were much better against Greece, although they benefited from some world class bad defending. They also provided some, though, and Petr Cech will be sincerely hoping he has a pre-Stephen Hunt game, rather than a post-Stephen Hunt game.
The Beeb just ran a piece on Solidarity, and with apologies to our many Czech fans, and Karel Poborsky, I’m joining in with the patronising “come on the plucky host nation” vibe.
Ed - Saturday 19:34
Those Crazy Eastern Europeans
No, Rant doesn’t understand this either. These are the official team ‘speakers’… we’re assuming that’s spin for spin doctor between you and us…
Ed - Saturday 19:32
The Dressing Rooms
You’d like a sneak peak inside the pre-match dressing rooms, wouldn’t you?! All those sweaty, naked me…. er hang on. Decency alert! But, seriously, just how many shoes do the Greek’s need?
Ed - Saturday 19:25
Russia versus Greece, Warsaw
RussiaÂ make a single change, with midfielder Denis Glushakov in for Konstantin Zyryanov who is ill. For the Greeks ‘ keeper Michalis Sifakis replaces Kostas Chalkias, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Czechs. Centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos is back after a one-match suspension, while left-back Giorgos Tzavellas and striker Fanis Gekas also come into the side.
Russia (4-3-3): Malafeev; Anyukov, Ignashevich, A. Berezutski, Zhirkov; Denisov, Shirokov, Glushakov; Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin
Czech Republic versus Poland, Wroclaw
Few surprises in either side for the match in Wroclaw, with both teams set out in the now ubiquitous 4-2-3-1 formation. Planski has passed a late fitness test for the Poles, but Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky is missing for the Czech’s with an Achilles injury. Goalkeeper Wojciech SzczÄ™sny is suspended for the Poles so PrzemyslawÂ Â Tyton comes into the side.
Ed - Saturday 17:19
Sad days; no more back-to-back Euro 2012 fixtures. But if the orgy of football is over then the tournament is really getting down to business as the final round of group matches takes place. This is where the competition’s narrative is written – the stage heroes and villains are made, and memories etched into eternity.
While Ireland and Sweden are already doomed to elimination, two more sides will head home Saturday evening. It could even be the hosts as Poland take on Czech Republic needing, realistically, to win. Will Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky et al spoil the party, or will Wroclaw rock to the sounds of Polish celebrations? Meanwhile, seemingly doomed Greece could write one more story at Euro 2012 as Fernando Santos’ team faces Group A class act Russia in Warsaw.
In addition to qualification places are at stake – few teams will fancy meeting probably Group B winners Germany in the quarter final.
In Warsaw Greek goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias is out with an injured hamstring, with Michalis Sifakis starts. Defender Avraam Papadopoulos is out after suffering a serious knee injury earlier in the tournament , but Sokratis Papastathopoulos is available after a one-match suspension. Kostas Katsouranis could into the back four from midfield. Dick Advocaat’s Russians are fully-fit, but the Dutch manager may bring Roman Pavlyuchenko into the side for Aleksandr Kerzhakov with Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Meanwhile, in Wroclaw Poland could be without three key players. Damien Perquis suffered a cut to his shin against Russia, midfielder Dariusz Dudka suffered a muscle strain, and Eugen Polanski picked up a bruised knee. For the Czech’s Rosicky has an Achilles injury and faces a late fitness test.