Poland Vs. Czech Republic, 2012 European Championships: Hosts Need A Win

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 12: Robert Lewandowski of Poland in action during the UEFA EURO 2012 group A match between Poland and Russia at The National Stadium on June 12, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

The Czech Republic and Poland are both in control of their own destiny, but Poland can only go through to the quarterfinals with a victory.

Both Poland and Czech Republic have entered the final game of Group A play in control of their own destinies. Neither is an elite side in European football and neither was favored to win the group, so they couldn't have asked for much more than to be in a position where they don't need any help. Poland are in the quarterfinals with a win and out with any other result. The Czech Republic are in with a win and could potentially be in with a draw, if things break their way in the other match.

Nothing has been easy for either side thus far, and both have had long stretches over their first two matches where they have played some very good football. Both have also had long stretches of bad football. The Czech Republic's lows have been lower than Poland's, but they also have three points to their name, while Poland has two.


Last Game: Poland 1-1 Russia, Czech Republic 2-1 Greece

Tomas Rosicky is a key player for the Czech Republic and is a serious injury doubt for the group finale. He entered the tournament with fitness issues and had to exit in the 45th minute with an ankle injury. He was excellent in the first half, completing 97 percent of his passes as the Czech Republic controlled the game. His replacement, Kolar, had a nightmare of a time, completing just 58 percent of his passes before he was substituted off himself.

Michal Bílek might have more faith in Kolar going from the start, but on the evidence of his performance against Greece, the Czech Republic might be better off switching to a 4-4-2 formation if Rosicky is unable to play. The Arsenal man will likely be a game-time decision for Bilek.

Whether Czech Republic play with Rosicky, Kolar or a second striker, they're going to give Poland a bit of a different look from what they saw in the first two games of the tournament. Greece played a very conservative and rigid 4-3-3, while Russia played a much more fluid version of the same formation. Dariusz Dudka, who came off the bench in the first game and started in the second game, was a dominant force in the middle against Greece, who were forced into midfield changes because of injuries and suspensions. The Czechs are not terribly solid in the midfield, and Dudka could be a key man in the match.

The Poles arguably have more talent in every area of the pitch, and it might just come down to whether they're able to finish their chances. They hit the target nine times against Russia in a very good performance, but managed to score only once. Poland actually outplayed Russia for the vast majority of their last game, and shouldn't be in a situation where they have to win to go through to the quarterfinals.

It's time for Robert Lewandowski to shine

Robert Lewandowski had a couple of decent chances against Russia and a goal against Greece, but he's gone missing for a long period of time in both matches. He's Poland's biggest talent and the Czech Republic's central defenders are nothing special. In front of a home crowd, in a must-win game, he needs to take over.

Czechs have to prove their win wasn't lucky

The Czech Republic was good for 10 minutes against Greece. That's it. The makeshift Greece defense looked out of sorts to start the match, the Czechs capitalized, and the game was effectively over quickly. They're going to have to work a bit harder to score two goals in this game. They'll be facing two natural central defenders who have played the last two games together.

Projected Poland Lineup (4-3-3): Przemyslaw Tyton; Sebastian Boenisch, Grzegorz Wasilewski, Damien Perquis, Lukasz Piszczek; Dariusz Dudka, Eugen Polanski, Ludovic Obraniak; Rafal Murawski, Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski.

Projected Czech Republic Lineup (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; David Limbersky, Michal Kadlec, Tomas Sivok, Theodor Gebre Selassie; Jaroslav Plasil, Tomas Hubschman; Vaclav Pilar, Tomas Rosicky, Petr Jiracek; Milan Baros.

football formations

Monty the Psychic Metal Disk says: Poland will finally play for 90 minutes and kick the ball toward the goal. 2-1 Poland.

Game Date/Time: Saturday, June 16th, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local

Venue: Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw, Poland

TV: ESPN (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), BBC One (U.K.), TSN 2 (Canada)

Online: ESPN3

We'll have live coverage of both of Saturday's games simultaneously in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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