Greece vs. Czech Republic: Greeks in Major Trouble After Crucial Loss to Czechs

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2012

WROCLAW, POLAND - JUNE 12: Giorgos Karagounis of Greece looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group A match between Greece and Czech Republic at The Municipal Stadium on June 12, 2012 in Wroclaw, Poland  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Greece finds itself in serious danger of being eliminated from Euro 2012 after a loss to the Czech Republic.

The Greeks had to feel good about their chances after earning a draw against Poland in the opening match, but the team wasn't able to capitalize on that result. Instead, they gave up two goals in the first six minutes and weren't able to fight back.

Petr Jiracek got the Narodak on the board in the third minute, and Vaclav Pilar struck shortly after to stun Greece before it even had a chance to settle in. It was a surprising outburst after the Czechs were throttled by Russia in their first match.

They clearly didn't want that to happen again, so manager Michal Bilek urged his team to attack a suspect Greek back line, and it worked to perfection.

Theofanis Gekas came off the bench to provide some offense for Greece in the second half. He gave the team a chance to come back with a goal in the 53rd minute, but that's all the Ethniki could muster en route to a crushing defeat.

Regardless of the other Group A result between Russia and Poland, Greece will enter its final group game against the Russians with an outside chance to advance. But based on the Sbornaya's recent form, that's a real long shot.

Greece prides itself on playing a strong technical game that makes it a tough squad to beat. The Greeks were able to showcase that ability for 84 minutes on Tuesday, but the lapses in the first six minutes were simply too much to overcome.

All told, Greece just doesn't have enough talent to hang with some of Europe's top clubs. When the back line isn't able to keep its shape, it opens up plenty of opportunities for the opponent, and the Czech Republic took advantage.

Having featured several older veterans, the tournament also might be a changing of the guard for the team. Longtime squad members like Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Chalkias are running out of time to make an impact, which means younger players will need to step up moving forward.

There will be plenty of time to talk about that in the future. As for now, Greece has to try to pull off a miracle against Russia and hope it's enough to advance.

If not, the Greeks will look back at their loss to the Czechs as a chance squandered.