Russia-Poland has mix of nastiness, intrigue

Poland's coach Franciszek Smuda reacts during their Euro 2012 Group A match against Greece at the...

Poland's coach Franciszek Smuda reacts during their Euro 2012 Group A match against Greece at the National Stadium in Warsaw, June 8, 2012. (Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS)

Morris Dalla Costa, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:02 PM ET

GDANSK, POLAND - No one would have predicted it or thought it possible.

One of the most anticipated matches in Euro 2012 happens on Tuesday.

Germany-Netherlands? England-Sweden? Portugal-Netherlands?

None of those fit the bill. None have the mix of politics, nastiness, intensity and tournament importance that Poland-Russia has on Tuesday.

It has, as they say, all the chemicals for a riot looking to happen.

Now, no one is suggesting a riot is going to happen, at least not during the game. Maybe before the game, when thousands of Russians plan to march to the National Stadium on Polish ground to celebrate a Russian national holiday.

That's the wick just waiting for someone to light it.

Then there is the rather goon-like personality Russian fans have been spreading in this country. It wasn't just the beating up of stewards in Wroclaw by Russian fans. It's the continuous reports dribbling in that Russian fans are doling out some nasty racist stuff.

Poland has looked forward to this tournament for so long, the last thing it wants is a demonstration for a bright future to be turned into a black eye.

And finally, although with almost two days before the game is played -- 'finally' being a tenuous word -- there's the little matter of staying in the Euro 2012 tournament.

All of Poland is nervous. Its opening 1-1 draw against Greece means that, in order to feel good about its chances of qualifying, it needs a result from the Russia game.

Russia has looked the best team so far. A 4-1 demolition of the Czech Republic made a lot of teams take notice, especially Poland.

Now the Russians need to keep both feet firmly on the ground and not worry about their fans, which they can't control, but focus on what they can control -- how they play.

What coach Dick Advocaat is trying to do is keep Russia's head from swelling. He's trying to do it by being somewhat picky about how well his team played in its opening win.

"At 2-1, it could have been 2-2. There were moments when we could have been sharper," he said. "We weren't really in the game the first 13 minutes."

Advocaat's biggest concern is how to get his team to score on more of its chances.

Poland's concern is to find some energy after its disappointing tie with Greece. Having the tournament on home soil is an advantage, but it also causes you other problems you wouldn't have if you were on the road.

Poland felt some of that pressure in the second half.

It will feel growing pressure as the day of its showdown with Russia nears and that pressure becomes enormous. It's the pressure to stay in the tournament as well as trying to stick it to a team whose fans have stuck it to their country.


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