Euro 2012: A Progress Update on Group A

Goal.

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through the group stage of Euro 2012? Time flies when you’re having fun, or something, and also apparently when you’re being RAYCESS and disorderly on the mean streets of Eastern Europe.

The editorial staff of this transatlantic newsmedia conglomerate will bring you a daily update of the status of the teams in each of the four groups, after each team has completed its second of the three matches in group play.

We start with Group A, because chronology.

Greece: At just 20 years old, young Kyriakos Papadopoulopoulopoulos [sic?], known hereafter as KP, looks to be one of the revelations of the tournament. For reasons that remain opaque to your footballing and RAYCESSISM correspondent, KP did not start Greece’s match against Poland but was brought on to replace his injured compatriot and namesake Avram Papadopou-oh, whatever. KP looks and plays like a colossus in defense, but at 6’0″ and 187 pounds is only larger than me by half an inch and a few helpings of saganaki (OPA!)

With one point from two matches, the Greeks still control their own destiny with respect to qualifying for the quarterfinals. Howevah, this means beating the Russians by three goals. If they win by less than three they’ll need a draw between Poland and the Czechs, and if they fail to win, they’re out.

So, who will survive longer, the Greek football team or the Greek government? ONLY GREEK ORTHODOX JESUS KNOWS, and He’s a myth invented by white people.

Poland: Poland is looking to buck the recent trend of host nations failing to advance from the group stage of major international tournaments (Austria & Switzerland in 2008, South Africa in 2010). With all of the advantages of playing at home, including a raucous and deafening home crowd behind them in Warsaw’s lovely new National Stadium, their return from two matches is two 1-1 draws. It could have been far worse, having thrown away a lead and a one-man advantage over Greece in the first match and surviving only due to penalty-saving heroics from their substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton.

The task facing the Poles is a clear one: Defeat the Czech Republic by any scoreline, and they will advance to the quarterfinals. Any other result means elimination. Their tactics against Russia were transparent and ineffective; playing the ball up to Robert Lewandowski 40 yards from the goal without a passing outlet did not come close to working against the disciplined Russian back line. They were lucky to catch the Russians on the counterattack with Yuri Zhirkov left out of position; Jakub Błaszczykowski took advantage to score the goal of the tournament thus far. To beat the Czechs, Poland will need to control the ball further up the field and deliver aerial balls for Herr Lewandowski to attack.

Czech Republic: Oh dear, the Czechs looked to be in real trouble after losing 4-1 to Mother Russia on the first day of the tournament. The Russkies are a decent side and might be one of the dark horses to win the tournament, but the Czechs were unlucky to lose by that scoreline. They have played open football, and that is to be commended because it makes for great entertainment for neutral viewers. The Czechs started both of their matches brightly; although they battered Russia for the first 15 minutes, there was no way through and the Russians broke the deadlock, leaving the Czechs to chase the game. To their credit, they started out against Greece with the same positive manner and were rewarded with two goals inside eight minutes.

Tomáš Rosický makes the Czech team tick and they will need him to stay fit and out of yellow card trouble to advance with a realistic chance of making the semifinals.

Having earned three points from two matches, the calculus for the Czechs is simple. A victory against Poland yields a soirée in the quarterfinals, probably with Ze Germans, who are comely lasses and definitely put out on the first date but will invade your country and make your Jews disappear during your post-coital nap. True story.

If they draw, they need a Russian victory or draw against Greece. If they lose, they’re out.

Russia: The Russkies look very comfortable indeed, perched as they are atop the charitably nicknamed Group of Life. They are playing well on both sides of the ball, having scored five goals and conceded two so far. Your correspondent had become convinced that the diminutive little genius Andrei Arshavin was an imitation footballer who couldn’t be arsed, but no. Comrade Arshavin has come back to life approximately four years since his last sighting, orchestrating the Russian attack with clever passing and incisive movement on and off the ball.

Their young striker Alan Dzagoev now has three goals and is certain to land a money-spinning move to a Champions League contender in England, Germany, Spain, or Italy. Given that Russia is almost certain to advance to the quarterfinals, the odds on Sér Dzagoev becoming the tournament’s top scorer have been slashed to 4-1. One month ago he was 10-1 to be Russia’s top scorer and 150-1 to win the Golden Boot. FECK.

Russia is in very good shape going into its final group match. Only a heavy defeat to goal-shy Greece would see the Russians fail to advance to the knockout phase, and a victory will win the group and help them steer clear of whoever finishes on top of the Dreaded Group of Death.


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