Yesterday’s match: France and England drew 1-1 in a desultory affair, while Ukraine beat Sweden in a thrilling match at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, in front of a delirious home crowd.
Today’s Group A action–the first time we’re seeing teams play their second set of matches: Greece-Czech Republic was the early match, with Czech Republic rebounding from their “Russian concussion” to win 2-1, and put themselves back in contention for 2nd at least.
But the big match of the day is between two nations with a lot of historical baggage that’s being brought to Warsaw today–Russia versus Poland.
Here are the fixtures–scroll down for some preview notes:
|Referee: Stéphane Lannoy (FRA) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, Wroclaw (POL)|
|Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER) – Stadium: National Stadium Warsaw, Warsaw (POL)|
The NYTimes provides some historical context to today’s tense match, in a article headlined “In Poland, Match With Russia Goes Far Beyond Soccer“:
Poland is enjoying its turn on the European stage, co-hosting the prestigious European soccer championship, which the country’s leaders hoped to use as a coming-out party for their newly confident nation. There is only one problem, and it is a familiar one: Russia.
Centuries of enmity have defined the relationship between Poland and Russia. Their history is filled with war, conquest and occupation. More recently, a significant minority of Poles have come to believe that the Russians were responsible for the plane crash in 2010 that killed President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 others.
Add to the mix the plans that Russian fans, celebrating their national holiday, Russia Day, on Tuesday, have made to march to the stadium before the game. Some are said to be planning to wear T-shirts featuring the Soviet hammer and sickle.
“Let’s wait and see what happens on Tuesday, but if Russians decide to promote any Soviet symbols, it’ll be an unprecedented scandal and a real affront to Poland,” said Mariusz Kaminski, 46, a senior member of the opposition Law and Justice Party. “It would be as if Germans visited Tel Aviv sporting swastikas.”
The threat of an outburst from either side, or both, is all the more unfortunate to many Poles because the tournament, from its years of preparation to last week’s opening ceremony, has been such a point of pride.
The European championship was their moment to show off the highways and train stations built in anticipation of the event, as well as top-of-the-line soccer stadiums. Up to now, nearly all of the negative publicity has been directed at the other host country, Ukraine, and its imprisonment of a former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.
And from the Ukrainian press, “Битва за Варшаву. Анонс матча Польша vs Россия” (roughly: “The Battle of Warsaw: Russia vs Poland Match Preview”):
…if the plans are fans of the Russian Federation, as reported by the media, with the emission of paper airplanes on the field with a hint of a plane crash with the Polish president Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Smolensk – the truth, the degree of control at the National Stadium in Warsaw will pass far beyond the mark of a boil.
Poland: Tyton – Pischek, Berkey, Wasilewski, Behnisch – Dudka, Murawski, Polanski – Blaschikovski, Obraniak – Lewandowski
Russia: Malafeev – Anyukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov – Denisov, Zyryanov, Shirokov – Arshavin, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov
We’re hearing reports now of violent clashes between the Russian and Polish fans within the last couple hours, with Warsaw police making 50+ arrests. Let’s hope things are calm within the stadium and on the pitch for the next couple hours.