WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 08: Euro 2012 mascots Slavek and Slavko pose ahead of the UEFA EURO 2012 group A match between Poland and Greece at National Stadium on June 8, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Hello everybody! I've decided I'm going to try something new - I'm going to establish daily live threads for the Euro 2012 festivities here at The Bent Musket. Unlike most of our live threads (like the other one I'll be posting tonight), these won't have to do with specific games. Consider them ongoing conversations between readers everywhere about the matches happening that day. Talk amongst yourselves, keep it (relatively) appropriate, comment on the games, post hilarious pictures and gifs, and generally just have a good time in this community as we celebrate the third-biggest international soccer event in the world (the CONCACAF Gold Cup being second, of course. Obviously.)
Here's a look at what's on tap today:
Poland vs. Greece - 12 PM EST, National Stadium
As one of the host countries, Poland isn't exactly favored to do too much in this tournament, but the home crowd advantage they'll have should do wonders for their ability to at least (maybe) get out of their group. Plus, with a group that includes Greece, the Czech Republic, and Russia, Poland actually has every chance of pulling it off. Keep an eye out for Robert Lewandowski, a young attacker in high demand around Europe who can single-handedly reduce even the greatest European sides to dust.
Greece's main claim to fame is their totally-unpredictable and masterfully-worked upset win of Euro 2004 - as in, the entire tournament. The Greeks rode the park-the-bus tactics of Otto Rehhagel all the way through to the final, stymieing every much-touted team in their way. Since then, Greece has generally struggled to come anywhere close to replicating that feat, but they're always lurking at the edges...and with the level of organization and defensive prowess they tend to exhibit, they are a stern test for anyone. It will be interesting to see if some of Greece's brightest young attackers, like Sotiris Ninis, will be given a chance to shine.
Russia vs. Czech Republic - 2:45 PM EST, Stadion Miejski
Russia exploded in Euro 2008, as the Guus Hiddink-coached side wowed and entertained through an attractive brand of soccer that caught a lot of teams by surprise. It shouldn't have, since anyone paying attention during qualifying could see that this was a revitalized Russia team, but it was surprising all the same. It was also Andrei Arshavin's coming out party, but much like his career since then, Russia's fortunes have inexplicably waned. They remain unarguably the most talented squad in the Group, though, so they have to be favorites to advance.
The Czech Republic is one of those teams that's just always there; no matter what international tournament you're watching, if the Czechs are eligible, they probably qualified. They're a team full of solid players and have a chance to do some real damage in what appears to be one of the weaker groups in the tournament. Also, the Czech Republic still has stars like Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky and Chelsea's goalkeeper hero Petr Cech, and on the strength of those two and a few others could take second (or even first) in this group.
So that's that. Start the conversation in the comments!