Euro 2012: Battle to avoid bottom
Greece adapted tactically to going down to ten men in their first game in impressive fashion, and I enjoyed their second half performance immensely.
When Greece meets the Czech Republic in Euro 2012, James Pacheco sees it more as a fight to stay off the bottom than a race to the top of Group.
It's hard to believe that the last time these two teams met in a European Championship was at the semi final stage in Euro 2004.
Neither of the current incarnations of Greece and the Czech Republic seem likely to go that far this time, and in many people's eyes this is the battle to avoid finishing bottom of Group A.
I wouldn't write Greece off just yet, though. They took advantage of Polish nervousness and were desperately unlucky not to win the game, having a man sent off, a penalty saved, and a goal (rightly, but only just) disallowed. That miss from the spot was actually the third consecutive penalty that Greece have missed and so it will be interesting to see who steps up if the referee Stephane Lannoy points to the spot.
The Frenchman may have a more important role to play here, though, as this is a meeting of the the teams which had the highest average card count in qualifying (Greece) and the Czechs who were fourth in that list of qualified teams. Greece proved true to that statistic in their opener, picking up three yellows and a red, and while the Czechs didn't receive a single booking in their opener against Russia, that was more to do with the nature of the game and the matey attitude of the referee Howard Webb. Lannoy issued four yellows in a relatively even tempered game between Germany and Portugal, and with both of these sides fighting for their futures at the tournament, I expect something a little combustible. More than enough, anyway, to suggest that there'll be over 4.5 cards at any price around (1.9).
In terms of the outcome, the Czechs have now conceded at least three goals in each of their last three matches at European Championship finals, but Greece are unlikely to make that four in a row. I'd be very careful with the over/under 2.5 goal markets, as so far in the tournament the matches which have looked like producing goals (Germany v Portugal, Spain v Italy) have been under the line, while the ones which have looked to be "unders" games (Rep of Ireland v Croatia, Russia v Czech Republic) have produced goals. The (1.63) about there being under 2.5 goals in this match looks like a bet, but the tournament so far has taught us to tread carefully.
To sum up, this isn't a game that I'll be punting much on: my feeling is that Greece adapted tactically to going down to ten men in their first game in impressive fashion, and I enjoyed their second half performance immensely.
There's a worry about fatigue with their relatively old side, but they look a better team that the Czechs, and shouldn't be the outsiders here @ Betfair odds of (3.4).
On value grounds alone, the Greeks, despite their terrible tournament record in terms of matches won, are worthy of some small support.
Best Betfair Bet
Back over 4.5 cards in Greece v Czech Republic (1.9).
Recommended Betfair Bet
Back Greece to beat Czech Republic @ Betfair odds of (3.4)