Poland braced for high-octane Russian clash

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Poland braced for high-octane Russian clash
Warsaw, June 12: Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland are bracing for what looks the most politically-charged match of the tournament tomorrow here when they face Russia who are on a high after thrashing the Czech Republic 4-1.

With Poland coach Franciszek Smuda tipping Russia as Group A favourites, his squad know they have to prove their staying power after throwing away a lead and drawing 1-1 with Greece in a tense tournament opener in Warsaw's National Stadium on Friday.

"We need to be very focussed, very concentrated, in order not to lose the game," said Smuda. Dutchman Dick Advocaat's Russia, whose base-camp is in the Polish capital Warsaw, returned there victorious after taking the Czechs to pieces on Friday in the southwestern city of Wroclaw. "It's going to be another interesting game for both teams," said Advocaat, who has less need to bang the drum.

Like co-hosts Ukraine, Poland did not have to qualify for Euro 2012 and were left only with friendlies to finetune their tactics - and know they have their work cut out tomorrow. "The match with Russia is going to be something completely different," said 22-year-old midfielder Maciej Rybus, who signed for Russian club Terek Grozny from Legia Warsaw this year."They don't defend like the Greeks. But we'll have got more used to the championship feel."

Smuda and Advocaat will look to their young gun strikers - both rumoured to be being courted by English Premier League clubs - to make their mark again tomorrow. Poland's man is 23-year-old Robert Lewandowski, fresh from a stellar season with German double winners Borussia Dortmund, who sent home fans wild when he scored on Friday.

Russia know they can rely on CSKA Moscow's 21-year-old Alan Dzagoev, their two-goal hero in Wroclaw, who had been a doubt for the tournament due to a broken toe but is set to play a starring role.

AFP

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