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Czech Republic-Greece Preview
By TOM BENNETT
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Czech Republic will be looking to keep their Euro 2012 future in their own hands when they play Greece in Wroclaw, Poland, on Tuesday evening.
The Czechs know anything other than a win against Greece would see their chances of progressing to the knockout stages rely on the other result in the final round of games in Group A, and will be desperate to put in an improved showing following their 4-1 defeat to Russia on the opening day.
"We really wanted to make a great impression in the first match of the tournament and, most importantly, not to lose it," said Vaclav Pilar, who netted the Czech's lone goal. "We made a lot of mistakes and we didn't defend very well, so it was a bad game.
"We gave them the room to play, which was bad. We knew that Russia have good forwards and I think we could have handled them, but they were simply better when they had the ball and we weren't strong enough in one-on-one situations.
"Jaroslav Plašil laid on a great pass to me right between their two full-backs for the goal, but I'm not happy. I would have been far happier if we had achieved a good result. We're angry now, even more so after losing by such a scoreline."
The match will also be a chance for the Czechs to avenge their semifinal exit to Greece back in 2004. Only three members of that Greek squad remain, with one of those - Kostas Katsouranis - pleased with the way the team bounced back from going a goal and a man down to draw their opening game against Poland 1-all.
"In the first 20 minutes our rivals got the better of us," said Greece vice-captain Katsouranis. "They took the initiative and were boosted by their crowd. We were not organised.
"In football there's no time-out for the coach, but when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off it was almost half-time and we were able to go to the dressing room, collect ourselves and get some advice from Mr. Santos.
"In the second half we came out more focused, changed the tactics. We started linking up better and detected fear in the eyes of our opponents. By then we knew we could turn the match around."
A win for Greece would see them needing just one point in their final game against Russia to reach the knockout stages, and manager Fernando Santos believes his team will learn from the lessons of the first half against Poland.
"We need to be more fresh in Wroclaw," said Santos. "We will work on a few details and watch videos of the Czechs.
"I will talk to my players and see if they know what went wrong and why they couldn't play as we had planned. I've written all the mistakes they made on a big board, under the heading 'What we should avoid'."
Czech captain Tomas Rosicky is expected to start after shaking off a calf injury in the defeat to Russia. Greece are without Avraam Papadopoulos after the centre-back was ruled out of the tournament with knee ligament damage. Papastathopoulos will watch from the stands as he serves a one-match ban for his red card.
The other two teams in Group A are co-hosts Poland and group leaders Russia, who meet later on Tuesday evening in Warsaw.
Updated June 10, 2012