Young mascots line-up in front of Czech Republic national soccer players before their Group C Euro 2012 soccer match against Greece at the City stadium in Wroclaw, June 12, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)
Friday's matches featured some of the most exciting to date. After a sloppy first half, the French scored two goals on a porous Ukraine defense to put the co-host nation in third place of Group D. Meanwhile England answered the call and rebounded from a 2-1 deficit to pull out a 3-2 win over Sweden, who became officially eliminated from the 2012 Euro Cup.
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Now the attention shifts back to Group A, which contains co-host Poland, Russia, Greece, and Czech Republic. The final pair of games will determine who stays and who returns to their country empty-handed. Russia tops the group after defeating the Czech Republic and tying Poland. Poland has two ties, the Czech have a victory over Greece, and Greece has just one tie against Poland. The Group is wide open with any one team still able to take the team with a combination of circumstances going their way.
Czech Republic Vs. Poland (Group A) 2:45 P.M., ET on ESPN
The Czech Republic can pass onto the Quarter Finals with a tie in this match and a Russian win or draw in the other match. A win would guarantee passage for the Czechs no matter what. Regardless of what happens in the other match, Poland needs a win in order to continue playing for its home crowd in the quarter finals.
Poland played valiantly against Russia in their 1-1 draw on Tuesday, so look for the co-host to come with the same flair and energy. The Czech are the favorites here with more potent weapons offensively.
Prediction: Czech Republic wins 2-1
Russia vs. Greece (Group A) 2:45 P.M., ET on ESPN2
Russia is the hands of favorite to win the game after Greece was unable to muster much against the weaker sides in the group. Russia will be looking to bounce back from its tie with Poland, a game that they had in the bag until blowing it halfway through the second half.
Russia only needs a tie to move on regardless of the Polish and Czech result. A win would secure first place and a date with the Group B runner-up. Since Germany looks to be the favorite out of Group B, it is certain that the Russians will do all they can to avoid that matchup, which is highly unfavorable to them.
Greece needs a win, and a big one at that. At this point Greece can only hope to be runner up in the group unless the other game is tied and they defeat Russia by three or more goals. That would eliminate Russia and put the Czech Republic and Greece through. If there is a winner in the other match, then Greece must not only defeat Russia, but do so by five or more goals in order to win the goal differential tie breaker between the two. This is a tall order for the Greeks who are the underdog in this match.
Prediction: Russia wins 3-1
Group A Predictions
Russia wins with 7 points.
Czech Republic becomes the runner-up with six points.
Poland, 2 points, and Greece, 1 point, join Ireland and Sweden as the eliminated teams.
Sunday, June 17
Portugal vs. Netherlands (Group B): 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
Denmark vs. Germany (Group B): 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Monday, June 18
Croatia vs. Spain (Group C): 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
Italy vs. Ireland (Group C): 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Tuesday, June 19
England vs. Ukraine (Group D): 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
Sweden vs. France (Group D): 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2