As we enter day five of Euro 2012, Greece and the Czech Republic get ready to face each other in Group A.
It’s early on in the tournament but already exciting. Both teams will be fighting for three points today.
After a disheartening 4-1 loss in their opening game, the Czech Republic will be looking to play with more fire and more urgency. This will not be the way they want to leave the tournament, should it happen within the next few games.
And Greece will be hungry for three points after their first-game draw against Poland. Should they outplay and beat the Czech Republic today, they have a chance to qualify for the quarterfinals.
After their first games, both Greece and the Czech Republic have revealed a few intriguing players who will be key factors in today’s matchup.
Greece: Dimitris Salpingidis
Dimitris Salpingidis scored for Greece in their opening game against Poland, resulting in a 1-1 draw. The powerful striker “was brought on at the beginning of the second half last Friday...when they were trailing 1-0” (via AFP Yahoo! Sports).
The substitution was a wise choice for Greece, as they enter today’s matchup with one point more than the Czech Republic. In their first game, Salpingidis was right where he needed to be for Greece to come back from 1-0.
Salpingidis tapped the ball in after an aerial save by Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny. The ball bounced off Szczęsny’s hands and landed right in front of the oncoming Salpingidis. The striker’s finish was what Greece needed to lift the team and match Poland’s goal in the first half.
His entrance into the game gave Greece more energy in the second half. After drawing a foul from Szczesny, Greece won a penalty kick opportunity (but unfortunately missed).
According to AFP Yahoo! Sports, it’s likely that Salpingidis will start in today’s match against the Czech Republic.
After his fifth international goal, we could see some more spark from Salpingidis on the attack.
Czech Republic: Václav Pilař
Despite the devastating 4-1 loss to Russia in their opening game, the Czech Republic had some hope seven minutes into the second half. The Czech Republic was trailing 2-0 coming back from halftime, and with Russia’s forwards hammering goalkeeper Petr Čech, Pilar’s goal kept the team in the game.
With the Czech Republic’s goal at the 52-minute mark, Pilar was the only one from his side to score, preventing a complete shutout in their first game of the tournament.
Pilar is one of the Czech Republic’s best weapons on the attack.
According to Karel Janicek of the Winnipeg Free Press, this is PIlar’s first major tournament, and he has performed well despite the initial lost to Russia.
Pilar’s speed and capabilities on the attack make him an intriguing player to watch in the Czech Republic’s upcoming matchups.
Czech Republic: Theodor Gebre Selassie
Total Football Magazine named the defender as a player to watch in this year’s tournament.
With the score 2-1 in the second half of Czech Republic’s first game against Russia, Selassie looked to tie the game. He shot but missed, hitting the side of the net instead.
Selassie is meeting challenges on and off the field, but keeping his head focused on the tournament and, likely, the importance of today’s matchup against Greece.
The defender is capable of displaying skills on the attack and will be a challenge for Greece.