Euro: Poland hope to inflict pain on Greece in opener
Poles nationwide will hope their team get the Euro 2012 party started with a bang when they take on Greece in the impressive National Stadium in the tournament's opener on Friday (5:00 p.m. British time).
Like South Africa two years ago for the World Cup, an opening draw kept the nation hooked but interest dwindled when results started to go against them.
Poland's football enthusiasm stretches further than just their own team but an opening loss to their much higher-ranked opponents would be deflating.
Poland have every chance of progressing from a very open-looking Group A which also contains Russia and Czech Republic, who meet later on Friday in Wroclaw (7:45 p.m. British time).
Russia and the Czechs have only met once before at the 1996 European Championship in England, though the ex-Soviet Union and former Czechoslovakia contested 12 games, the Soviets claiming six victories to the Czechs' two.
Image: Polish players Adam Matuszczyk (left), Eugen Polanski (centre) and Sebastian Boenisch exercise during a training session on Thursday
Photographs: Alex Grimm / Getty Images
Czech striker Baros fit to face Russia
Czech Republic striker Milan Baros is available for Friday's Euro 2012 game against Russia (1845 GMT) after passing a fitness test on a thigh strain, team doctor Petr Krejci said on Thursday.
"He has the green light," he said, adding that captain Tomas Rosicky was also fit after a niggle.
The Russians too have no injury concerns and coach Dick Advocaat said everyone was raring to go for the game in Wroclaw.
The Dutch coach vowed to keep up an attacking style of play against a Czech side that will want to impress the thousands of fans expected to make the short journey over the border into Poland.
"If we're really honest, it's all about results," Advocaat told a news conference. "But we can't change our way of playing. That's our way, a more attacking way."
Image: Milan Baros
Photographs: David W Cerny / Reuters
Ukraine team recovers from mystery illness
Ukraine's players have recovered from a mysterious stomach bug and hope to surprise Sweden when the pair meet in their Euro 2012 opener on Monday, coach Oleh Blokhin said.
"Twenty-three players are ready for the game against Sweden," Blokhin told reporters.
The illness swept through the squad this week and almost led to the cancellation of Tuesday's friendly against Turkey, which Ukraine lost 2-0.
Blokhin, who previously said he suspected "sabotage", refused to discuss the issue on Thursday.
"More than two days have passed, the lads feel fine," he said. "The topic is closed."
Blokhin said the co-hosts, which performed poorly in the Turkey friendly, would vastly improve in their first Group D game.
"You will see a different team, I am sure," he said.
Blokhin opted not to reveal any details about his starting lineup.
"I used to be an unpredictable player and I am an equally unpredictable coach," he said.
Ukraine, who have lost three top goalkeepers to injuries and a drugs ban, face France and England after kicking off their campaign against the Swedes at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Image: Ukraine's soccer players go through the grind during a training session at Dynamo stadium in Kiev on Thursday
Photographs: Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters