As I said before, I am writing this late as I had things to do this morning. But I just got to half-time and its time for my tips for these teams.
Russia- Although Russia has a great attack and Dzagoev might end up being the Euro’s top goal scorer, but Arshavin needs to step up as an attacker if they are going to go past the Round of 8. Russia’s defense is shaky as in terms of skill but solid in terms of discipline. This trait has saved the Russians more than once already, including that awkward save by their keeper. Yuri Zhirkov is playing okay, and maybe it is because he used to play for Chelsea but I expect more from him. Mainly, Russia needs another goal more than better defense to hold them up.
Poland- I am semi-surprised at the strength of the Polish attack, even though they do possess the Dortmund Polish Three (as I call ’em). Lewandowski is such an phenom of a striker and Poland needs to find a way to get him even more looks at the net. I don’t want to leave the host side’s fate in one guy’s hands but he is truly a man of power. Hopefully Poland uses their creative side to move ahead, as I would like them too. Other than that, I think that their defense will be their downfall, as the discipline that Russia has isn’t there.
First place in Group A is by far the most important place to achieve in the group stages because no one wants to face the winner of Group B. It might be the deciding factor for the Group A winner to make the semi-finals.
Final Score- Poland:1/Russia:1
The tie in this match has made Group A a do or die. All four teams have the ability to move on, and everyone but Greece will move on with a win. Greece will need a win and a better goal differential, which is possible but tougher. As of now though, I will talk about this game.
Poland and Russia really duked it out today and the game was a really fun game to watch. I enjoy ties in group stages because it makes the whole group more interesting. The game was well paced and back and forth. Poland came out stronger in the second half with a beautiful build up and goal from the Polish side in the 57′ minute. Russia still looked dangerous, but arguebly not as dangerous as the first half or even the Czech Rep. game. The Polish defense was stronger in this half as they needed to be, and the strength of Poland’s offense came through. I will talk about why this was a tie, and what these teams need to get out of this group stage.
Russia- Lost the lead on a well executed counter attack, and, let’s face it, a unstoppable shot. But this is the least of their worries as the strength of Russia is not doing was Russia has the most of, which is strong attackers. I believe that Russia needs to go all offensive against the Greeks. Czech do not really have a strong attack or defense, but I would be worried about counter attacks. I also think having an Arshavin-Pavlyuchenko-Dzagoev line up top will do wonders for them, but I have a soft spot for Roman since 2008. Playing a 4-3-3 against Greece will work if you force them to attack in small numbers and make sure you have the ball +60% of the time. If and only if. Another thing to take note is that Russia will move on with another tie, and are also in the best spot for winning the group, both can be used to their advantage. Although I believe the Polish are the strongest side in this Group, with the addition of home field, Russia seems like they will take group A.
Poland- Who I believe was the stronger side, Poland looks like they have all the ideals of a good team without the execution 100% of the time. That counter attack that gave them the equalizer in the 57’th was spot on and flawless, and if they can find a way to replicate this on a more consistent level, then this team will be much more deadly. Defense is still okay, sadly I think it will be their downfall in this tournament. I do believe that I will see them on the opposite side of the group stages, but it will be something special to go any further. Poland will need to play a strong attacking formation against the Czech, and making sure that the Czech do not get far into their half will make for a sure win.
I’m sorry for the late write-up, I had a couple things to do. But I will try to do a pre-game analysis before Group B’s games as I know these teams very well.