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(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Expectations will be high among home supporters when co-hosts Poland get the Euro 2012 finals underway with a Group A match against Greece at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Friday.
Poland, who automatically qualified for the finals, have not played a competitive match since October 2009 when they lost 1-0 at home to Slovakia in the last game of an unsuccessful 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Franciszek Smuda, who was appointed Poland head coach in October 2009, has since built a useful squad around the Borussia Dortmund trio of Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek, who helped their German club retain the Bundesliga title last season, and Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
"It is our goal to advance from the group and I am convinced we can do it," Smuda said. "But this is a group that you can be wrong about. Russia is an excellent team. I think they are the favourites to advance from our group. Greece also is very good.
"Taking over this post, I thought that you could easily find 11 players, and good players at that. But it turns out that it's actually very hard to find 11 good players.
"We aren't in a situation like the Germans are right now, where we could put together three national teams from our roster.
"We can only put together one, and we have to pray to God that we don't have any injuries."
Poland's recent record in friendly internationals is impressive. They are unbeaten in six games, winning five and also securing a goalless draw with Portugal.
Poland beat Andorra 4-0 in their final warm-up match on June 2. They took a 3-0 half-time through Ludovic Obraniak, Lewandowski and a Jakub Błaszczykowski penalty. A late second-half spot-kick from Marcin Wasilewski completed the scoring.
Smuda's team have also kept clean sheets in their last five outings. In 2011, they earned a 2-2 draw against Germany and were unlucky to lose 1-0 against France.
"Last year showed that we can play with strong opponents," added Smuda. "OK, so we didn't win, but we were good to watch. Against Germany, France and Portugal we fought as equals despite the fact that we don't have a team that has played with that lineup at a tournament and hasn't played against those sorts of opponents.
"That's why I'm optimistic and why Poles are optimistic."
Greece were surprise winners of Euro 2004 but found the going tough in international football after that brief moment of glory. They didn't qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals and then crashed out of Euro 2008 after losing all three group matches. They also failed to progress beyond the group stages at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
But since Fernando Santos replaced Otto Rehhagel as Greece head coach on 1 July 2010, the Greeks have produced a solid run of results. In the 21 matches played under Santos, Greece have won 11 times, drawn nine and lost just once. However, they scored only 24 goals in that time while conceding 13. In qualifying for Euro 2008, Greece were unbeaten in ten matches (seven wins, three draws). They scored just 14 goals and conceded five.
Santos believes that the spirit of his team is their greatest attribute.
"Greece's strength is the spirit of the team," said Santos. "The players show great passion when they play for their national team, they give everything they have on the pitch and they do that both off and on the field.
"At the moment this isn't easy, because many of them are tired. The league ended very late, with the play-offs we had, but I have absolute confidence in my players in terms of their character, determination and passion."
Santos is expected to set his team up in the familiar Greek style, captained by Giorgos Karagounis from a deep lying midfield position. If the success of Euro 2004 is to be repeated then the prolific Theofanis Gekas will need to add to his 21 goals for the national side.
The creative spark should be provided by 22-year-old winger Sotiris Ninis, who will complete a move to Parma from Panathinaikos following the tournament.
Poland last met Greece in March 2011 when the teams played out a goalless draw in Piraeus. Poland defender Michal Zewakow retired after the game having won a record 102 caps for his country.
Russia and the Czech Republic are the other two sides in Group A.
Updated June 6, 2012