Euro 2012: Greece vs Russia
Russian footballers go through practice sessions, ahead of the final Group A game in the 2012 European Championships Reuters

Saturday marks the final round of games from the group stages of the 2012 European Championship and, pursuant to rules looking to discourage match-fixing by manipulating results of late games based on early kick-offs, all final round games will be played at the same time - 7.45 pm BST.

The action begins with Group A, where leaders Russia face the 2004 champions Greece at the National Stadium in Warsaw. Despite predictions of this group (also featuring co-hosts Poland and the volatile Czech Republic) being a boring one, the four countries have not only served up good football but fought to ensure that all four teams remain in contention for one of the two quarterfinal berths allotted to them.

Russia have four points (a thumping 4-1 win against the Czech and a 1-1 draw against Poland), to Greece's one (an opening day 1-1 draw to Poland was followed by a 1-2 defeat to the Czech) but that will not stop Fernando Santos' side from advancing to the quarters, if they can beat Dick Advocaat's side by four clear goals; admittedly a near-impossible task. Should Greece, however, pull off the improbable, the result of the other game - between the Czech and Poland - will not matter. Russia, meanwhile, are far more comfortably placed and barring a catastrophic loss to Greece combined with a win for either the Czech or the Polish, will play the knockout stages.

According to the tournament schedule, the winners of Group A will play the runners-up of Group B in the quarterfinal. As things stand, this means Russia will play Portugal and the Czech their old foes Germany.

The Build-Up:

Despite the near insurmountable odds facing Greece, Santos is confident in his team's ability and was quoted as saying so in a Sky Sports report.

"My faith in my team is total. It's the same faith I had back in the autumn after our (qualifying) draw in Latvia. Back then, it was tense and we needed a victory against Croatia to have any chance of qualifying. I believed in that team, I said so, and afterwards I was vindicated. I am saying the same now," Santos stressed.

However, the coach did sound a note of caution and urged his players to quickly forget Tuesday's defeat to the Czech.

"We must leave it all behind us. We must take all our passion on to the pitch and I am sure we will make the Greek fans happy," he explained.

The Russians, meanwhile, are understandably even more buoyant. Coach Advocaat and star player Alan Dzagoev have both spoken about the confidence levels in the Russian camp, as also the need to ensure there is no loss of focus, suggesting Greece may be in for a hard time.

"I'm really sure that we will go through and we are very focused. We must go on the pitch and win the game. We don't feel relaxed. We simply must win," Dzagoev, who is joint top scorer for the tournament with three strikes (along with Germany's Mario Gomez and Croatia's Mario Mandzukic) said.

Advocaat has been even more bullish, claiming the Russians have been the best team of the tournament so far.

Team News:

Greece - A big loss for Santos will be goal keeper Kostas Chalkias, who injured his hamstring against the Czechs. Michalis Sifakis, who came on for Chalkias in that game, is likely to continue in his place. Meanwhile, centre back Avraam Papadopoulos adds to an injury list that has seriously compromised the sides' defensive options; the defender tore his knee ligaments in the first game against Poland and will not play any more for the rest of the year. The good news, little as it is, is that Sokratis Papastathopoulos is available after a one-match suspension for his red card against Poland.

Russia - Advocaat will be relieved he has none of the headaches his opposite number has and can pick from a full strength side. He is unlikely, however, to tamper too much with his side but may consider replacing out of form striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov with Roman Pavlyuchenko.


  • Greece have only beaten Russia once in 10 meetings between the two
  • In contrast, Russia beat Greece in the group stages of both previous European Championships
  • Greece have yet to win a match in the European Championships since their remarkable 2004 title triumph
  • Russia are unbeaten in 16 games (having won eight of those). The last time they lost was in February 2011, when they were beaten 0-1 by Iran in a friendly
  • Five of the last seven goals (in major tournaments) have been scored or set up by Andriy Arshavin

Where to Watch Live:

You can follow the game live from 7.45 pm BST on BBC Three, as well as BBC Radio 5 live and the official UEFA Web site. You can also catch highlights on BBC One and the BBC Sport Web site.

Match Report:

You can read the full IBTimes UK match report, here.