The Czech Republic faces Greece in the second match round. Both countries probably need a win to advance. The Czechs, 4-1 losers in their first match, would be eliminated without earning at least a result. The Greeks, failing to win, would have to beat Russia in their final match.
Greece went a goal down and a man down in the first half against Poland. For an ultra-defensive side, that is normally a death sentence. The Greeks, however showed resolve and uncharacteristic flexibility. They shut down Poland’s attacks down the right, nicked an equalizer and earned an opportunity (not taken) to win the game on a penalty. Noteworthy for this match: they face a selection crisis at the back.
The Czechs looked terrible, mostly because they got caught in a trap. The Russians overran the Czechs in midfield. By the time they solidified, they were two goals down, forcing them to attack and to press forward. This left them even more vulnerable to Russia’s potent counterattack.
International squads are disparate assemblies of players. It is easier than at club level to overcome a talent disparity with discipline, cohesion and execution. The Greeks showed that. The Czechs did not. You can be mediocre. You cannot be mediocre and sloppy.
[Photo via Getty]