Sorry about my tardiness, I know we saw Group B today (seriously Portugal, Bendtner?) but that’s not how I roll, we’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Greece have a problem. Well two problems, well eleven problems, and they don’t play in the first half. Greece have problems.
The tongue twisting combination of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Avraam Papadopoulos being out meant that the Greeks had to have a shuffle in a position that they are already lightly staffed in. Within six minutes we knew it had failed. In a big show of public honesty, Greece’s goalie Chalkias even removed himself after he suddenly realised just how poor he is.
The bigger problem however is that the Blue-whites don’t have two Georgios Samaras’. About midway through the first half they moved the big Celtic forward to the left prong of midfield letting Gekas and the threatening Salpigidis head the attack. And it worked. His energy, movement, dominance in the air, and general wise use of possession proved useful. He carried on out there in the second half and the Greeks saw goal chances as a result. The only problem was, Samaras wasn’t also in the middle to finish the chances off.
The Czechs did a bit better however, bar Petr Cech and his buttery thumbs made of cotton wool. Why are you powersliding into that catch?! The two most promising players – Tuncay lookalike Petr Jiracek and nippy clinical forward Vaclav Pilar – got on the scoresheet but petr-ed (come on) out as the game went on. But it didn’t matter really because they got the win, perhaps Milan Baros will do something before they stop playing him.
The other side of Group A saw the co-host Polska take on the formidable Russia. Well less formidable now. More politically motivated than England vs Argentina, the riot police seemed to be the only team taking a battering as this was a fairly even contest.
You would say that Russia edged the first half but that Poland could have snatched it after another member of the Dortmund connection, Jakub Blaszczykowski scored the goal of the tournament thus far. The ball to him was as precise as an ant’s lasercutter and he struck it as sweet as you like, you’ve got to love it when the hosts score.
Russia meanwhile were let down by the star of matchday uno and Chinese child impersonator Arshavin. See the problem is, and Arsenal fans will tell you this, he is a bloody useful player when he’s on form and when he’s not – he is a complete liability.
Unfortunately he was loose in possession yesterday and was suffering from a big bout of laziness, as he is prone to, which cost Russia. All Poland’s threat in the second half come down his flank, even the beauty of a pass for the goal came from Yuri Zhirkov being left up against two players and it could have cost Russia the point.