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Euro 2012: Czechs and Greece Advance, Group of Death on Tap

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Also, WHAT? We've really been spoiled with the tournament so far, and Saturday only enriched an experience that's provided plenty of dramatic moments to this point. I say that as a neutral---yesterday was obviously painful for those who had a vested interest in the success of Russia or Poland, and today will see two more teams end their run. But whether it's as a neutral or a supporter of one of the nations involved, there's no doubt that another day in which all four teams have a chance at qualification is something to be excited about.


Czech Republic 1, Poland 0
CZE: Jiracek' 72

I was among the many who had a sentimental investment in Poland finding a way to progress, mostly because I'm a weepy basketcase who appreciates romance in sport. And with the way they played in the first half---which mirrored their effort in the opening match against Greece---there was little reason to expect disappointment. As the match wore on, however, we started to see the same Poland we witnessed in the two earlier rounds, with early promise fading into a disorganized and ineffective display. The Czechs were comfortable for most of the second half and took the lead with a quarter of an hour to play, with Milan Baros laying off for Petr Jiracek, who rolled it past Przemyslaw Tyton. The Poles very nearly got a goal in the final minutes, which would have only knocked the Czech Republic out as well, but in the end it was the side that, after matchday one, few had predicted to survive the group stages that found their way to the knockout rounds.

Greece 1, Russia 0
GRE: Karagounis 45+2'

Just as nobody was expecting to see the Czechs past Saturday, there were few who could have predicted that Russia would be headed home. But a failure to see out the early lead against Poland left Dick Advocaat's side with a bit of work left to be done to qualify, even if elimination seemed unlikely. Giorgos Karagounis changed all that, however, as he put Greece ahead in first half injury time with a well-placed effort. That didn't push the Russians out of the competition at the moment, as the Czech Republic and Poland were still at 0-0, meaning Greece and Russia were through. Jiracek's goal changed things entirely, though, and while they were inches from an equalizer when Alan Dzagoev headed Andrei Arshavin's cross just wide, the day ended with Russia and Poland done, and Greece joining the Czech Republic in the knockout stages.

For today’s matches:

http://wiziwig.eu/
http://www.stopstream.tv/
http://www.fromsportcom.com/
http://www.firstrowsports.eu/
http://www.coolsport.tv/
http://livefootballol.com/

Portugal v. Netherlands
7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST
ITV/ESPN, ESPN3.com

So, match that. Portugal salvaged their hopes with a 3-2 victory over Denmark earlier in the week, which became a meta-salvaging effort after they'd given away a 2-0 lead. The Dutch have easily been the disappointment of the tournament, as many predicted they'd be alongside Germany in dominating a challenging Group B. It's all gone to pot for Bert van Marwijk's squad, with consecutive losses against Denmark in their opener and a slightly less indifferent performance in the 1-2 result against Germany. They'll need to turn things around in a big way against the Portuguese, who've managed a few quality performances and a win over Denmark with little influence from Cristiano Ronaldo, and they've almost impossibly got a chance to move on despite their struggles in their first two.

Denmark v. Germany
7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST
ITV/ESPN2, ESPN3.com

There's been more than enough uncertainty through the first few rounds, but one of the constants is that Daniel Agger is absolutely bossing opposition forwards, and that'll need to be the case today if the Danes have any hope of qualifying. They disappointed early against Portugal but managed a fight-back, which proved in the end to be too little too late as the Iberians drew level on points and earned the edge on head-to-head. Germany are all but through in a vacuum, but there's also the possibility that they could somehow fall out of the competition if the constellation of results lines up perfectly. I can't see the Germans not winning the group, but if yesterday taught us anything, it's that there's very little we can predict with this summer's competition.