Poland v Russia – Match Preview

Franciszek Smuda admits his Poland side struggled to deal with the pressure of hosting the opening game of Euro 2012 but is hoping to build on their draw with a win over Group A leaders Russia.

Poland began the tournament on home soil with an enthralling 1-1 draw with Greece that saw both sides have a man sent off and head coach Smuda acknowledges his players were overawed by the occasion.

“The pressure for the opening game was really huge because we thought we had to win. We didn’t want to fail. We want to win but we don’t want to lose.” He said in his pre-match press conference.

“We know we have one point and because of this we will have a chance until the very end.

After watching the Russians trample over the Czech Republic, Smuda emphasised the need for his players to remain focused on the task in hand and ignore the other game in Group A.

We have to play our way but we have to be more organised in the event that we lose possession.

“We cannot worry about this (the other game). We can only think about our fixture. Any result is acceptable for us in this match – except a defeat.”

Russia boss Dick Advocaat is hoping his side can build on their comprehensive 4-1 triumph over the Czech’s on Friday and book an early spot in the quarter finals.

He’s likely to start with Aleksandr Kerzhakov in attack on Tuesday despite the striker setting a new European Championship record after wasting seven opportunities in their opening game.

The 29-year-old Zenit St Petersburg forward dismissed rumours that he would be dropped in favour of Roman Pavlyuchenko and challenged his teammates to provide that all important second win that will keep them in pole position.

“If we keep on winning, I don’t care how many goals I score, or if I even score at all. It will be a tough encounter because Poland will be at home,” Kerzhakov said.

“They drew their opening match against Greece and I am sure they were after a better result, so in order to qualify for the knockout stages, they need to win and will be doing everything to do that.”

Team News

Wojciech Szczesny is banned after being sent off against Greece but apart from that Smuda has a fully fit squad to choose from with Przemyslaw Tyton likely to start after saving the penalty conceded by his teammate.

Aleksandr Anyukov should be fit to take his place in the starting lineup after coming through training unscathed.

Key Players

Robert Lewandowski

All eyes were on the Borussia Dortmund striker after an impressive season in Germany and he didn’t disappoint scoring the first goal of the tournament with a superb header. His approach play and unselfish work as the lone striker gives Poland a real threat in attack but he’ll need to be at his best to get the better of a stern Russian rearguard.

Alan Dzagoev

Tipped as one of Europe’s up and coming young stars the 21-year-old CSKA Moscow midfielder was terrific against the Czech Republic scoring twice and running the show from midfield. His clever passing and driving runs from midfield provide a real goal threat and Russia will be expecting him to build on a superb first game.

Prediction: 1-2

 


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