Poland prepare to do battle with less noisy neighbours



With a place in the quarter-finals at stake, Poland are ready to make history against the Czech Republic today. The Euro 2012 co-hosts will be seeking their first victory of the tournament – and first quarter-final berth at the European Championship – at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, following 1-1 draws with Greece and Russia in Group A.

"It's going to be a mini-final for us," said the Poland captain, Jakub Blaszczykowski. "It'll be the biggest match in the recent past for all of us."

The Czechs are a point ahead of Poland after beating Greece 2-1, following a 4-1 loss to Russia. A win for either team will put them through. The Czechs, however, could be missing their captain, Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky, because of an Achilles tendon injury.

The hooliganism that took place around Poland's emotionally charged match against Russia on Tuesday is not expected to be repeated today. Unlike the relations between Poland and Russia that are tense due to a bitter and bloody history, the Poles have an easier relationship with their southern Slavonic neighbours and have treated them accordingly.

The mayor of Wroclaw, where the Czechs are based and where they play all three group matches, hosted a lunch for the team at City Hall and thousands of Polish fans attended open training sessions, cheering the Czech players and applauding every goal in practice matches. To the Czech team's pleasant surprise, the local public showed strong support even in the rain and even after the demoralising loss to Russia.

That was in stark contrast to Czech fans, who booed the coach Michal Bilek and striker Milan Baros, blaming them for the poor performance.

"So far, we've been feeling here like at home," said the Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech, who has recovered from a shoulder injury and will face Poland.

To prove the friendly atmosphere before the match, Cech gave some advice to the Poles on how to solve the dilemma of whether to start with the substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton, who saved a penalty against Greece, or Wojciech Szczesny, who was sent off in that match and banned for the game against Russia.

"If I were a coach, I would put Lewandowski in the goal," Cech said, with a smile.

Robert Lewandowski has been impressive as Poland's sole striker, scoring with a powerful header against Greece last week in Warsaw. But after two matches at the National Stadium, Poland must travel to Wroclaw, not far from the Czech border.

"We've grown used to this [Warsaw] stadium and this field, and it would be nice to play here," the midfielder Rafal Murawski said. "But we're playing at home, regardless of where it is, and we're going to play to win and I think the fans there will help us win."

Authorities expect about 50,000 Czechs to flood the city and are now expanding the capacity of the fan zone from 30,000 to 45,000.

Poland's public broadcaster, meanwhile, has apologised for showing the Soviet flag on a news broadcast giving the result of the match with Russia this week.

The graphic, showing a small red flag carrying the hammer and sickle – which has not used as a national symbol for two decades – set in the foreground of the Polish white and red banner, appeared during Wednesday afternoon's edition of the news programme Wiadomosci.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian white, blue and red flag replaced the communist symbols, which continue to spark mixed emotions in former Soviet satellites, including Poland. The difficult relationship, fraught with historical grievances, between Moscow and Warsaw was brought into the spotlight after hooligans attacked Russian supporters during their march to the stadium in Poland's capital on Tuesday. The march also celebrated Russia Day, the anniversary of declaration of the country's independence in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed.

Piotr Krasko, Wiadomosci's main anchor, said the controversial graphic was prepared for an earlier discussion of past matches between Poland and the Soviet Union.

Its use for Tuesday's game "was an unintended error at the worst possible moment," he told viewers.

Several Polish politicians criticised the mistake.

"We won't leave this matter alone," Jan Dziedziczak, a member of the parliament's culture committee, told the tabloid newspaper Fakt. "We demand a detailed explanation from the president of (public broadcaster) TVP."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent