Poland vs. Russia Euro 2012: Russia Must Win Group A to Duplicate 2008 Euro Run

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IJune 12, 2012

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 12:  Konstantin Zyryanov of Russia 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 Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

If Russia wants to duplicate its Euro 2008 run that saw them reach the semifinal then it must take care of business in a weak Group A and avoid playing the winner of Group B in the first round of the knockout stage, which could very well be Germany.

Even though the winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B, which could still be Portugal or the Netherlands, they are both more beatable opponents than Germany. Facing the Germans in the knockout stage would be an almost certain loss for the Russians.

If Russia had beaten an inferior Poland team in the second group stage match on Tuesday, it would have likely won Group A rather easily, but since it drew 1-1 with Poland, Russia now has a one-point lead over the Czech Republic for the lead in the group table.

The final match for Russia in the group stage is against Greece, which before the tournament looked like a group decider.

However, Greece has unexpectedly struggled in their first two group matches with a loss and a draw, and will be fighting for their tournament lives on Saturday, June 16 against Russia.

The Russians will need a brilliant performance to avoid defeat to a talented Greece side and win Group A. They can defeat a team like Portugal, or maybe even the Netherlands in the knockout stage, but Germany is a real challenge for them.

If Russia is going to duplicate its impressive Euro 2008 run four years later, winning Group A is a goal that must be accomplished, and there's no excuses for the team if this doesn't happen.

There's no reason why the Russians cannot defeat Greece considering what is at stake and how much winning the group would mean for them.