For the first half of the opening match of Euro 2012, Greece looked sort of like you'd expect them to. When a defensive team can't defend, they're in trouble, and Poland ran riot. Then, down to ten men and forced to attack, they found something deep inside themselves. Something that approximated a football team. Sure, they only earned a point and they probably should have won, but it was a point against the hosts and an impressive comeback, one which should give Fernando Santos' side some confidence heading into their match against the Czech Republic.
Confidence, incidentally, that the Czech will not be feeling. Although they were nominally in the game against Russia for most of the second half, in truth they were flattered by a 4-1 scoreline, the only thing sparing their blushes being Alexsandr Kerzhakov's wayward finishing. They were reasonably competent in the midfield, but the back line was frankly depressing, and even against Greece you should expect it to leak chances, if not as many goals as against Andrei Arshavin and company.
It's difficult to see how the Czech Republic can fix this, apart from magically getting better. Greece, meanwhile, might be able to staunch their defensive issues by replacing both starting centre backs. They'll have to - Avraam Papadopoulos is out of the tournament with a knee injury, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended for not doing anything, which is a little bit harsh. Papadopoulos will be replaced with namesake Kyriakos, while Stelios Malezas should fill in for Papastathopoulos. It should be a more solid unit, if only by default.
We should also expect a start out of Dimitris Salpingidis. The midfielder turned Greece's fortunes around when he came on at halftime against Poland, scoring the equaliser and winning a penalty as well. It's virtually unthinkable that he wouldn't be rewarded with a place in the first eleven, although it's not clear whether he'll replace Sotiris Ninis, as he did in the opener, or the hilariously ineffective Giorgios Samaras. For the sake of my personal amusement, I'm hoping Samaras stays on the pitch.
Despite their issues against Russia, the Czechs are still probably the better team. But in a tournament like this, where Greece have already proved to themselves that they belong, it's not clear that that will matter. If Greece can show the fight they did against Poland, anything can happen.
Greece (4-3-3): Kostas Chalkias; Jose Holebas, Stelios Malezas, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis; Giogos Karagounis, Kostas Katsouranis, Giannis Maniatis; Georgios Samaras, Dimitrios Salpingidis, Theofanis Gekas.
Monty the Psychic Metal Disk says: 2-1 Greece. No, I don't know why. I'm supposed to be psychic, not intelligent.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, June 12th, 12 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. local
Venue: Stadion Miejski, Wroclaw, Poland.
TV: ESPN (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), ITV 1 (U.K.), TSN (Canada)