Poland-Russia the big one

So today is the one that everyone here has been waiting for.  Poland’s match against Russia, the same Russia which, along with Frederick the Great, drove the partition of Poland at the end of the 18th century which removed Poland from the map for over 100 years, the same Russia which Poland’s romantic tradition was geared against throughout the 19th century, the same Russia which, under the guise of the Soviet Union reoccupied Poland in 1939 and once more in 1944, the same Russia who right-wing extremists believe murdered the ex-Polish President Lech Kaczynski ‘at dawn’ in April 2010.  Basically it’s as close to an eternal enemy as it gets for Poland.

We’ve seen in the blog how Poles who believe what happened two years ago was murder, planned to protest the 26 month anniversary of the crash in Smolensk on June 10.  Well that protest went off without incident, in fact without any of the hate speech regarding Russia which these demonstrations have had in the past.

We saw a couple of days ago how Russian fans plan on celebrating Russia day before the match with Poland today.  Well the march is going to happen as Warsaw city council has accepted Russian fans’ requests.  On a phone in yesterday almost all the callers were opposed to the march for a number of different reasons.  But it’s going ahead and we just have to hope that there will be no bad incidents surrounding it.

So with all the pseudo-politicking around the game it’s been almost easy to forget that there is actually a very important match at stake tonight.  So what’s going to happen?  Poland looked initially impressive against the Greeks, only for it all to fall apart in the second half.  There’s been much criticism here regarding the trainer Franciszek Smuda and his caution during the Greek match, shown by the fact he refused to use any substitutes to liven things up.  With Szczesny out Tyton the penalty hero of the other day will be between the sticks.  There’s been talk of several changes to the Polish team in the wake of Greece.  We’ll see if they perform better.

As for the Russians, well everyone here was very impressed by their performance and result against the Czechs.  With Arshavin, Dzagoev and others pulling the strings it could be a very long night for the Poles.

Poland have to go for the win, but I think a draw will be ok, as long as the Poles beat the Czechs in the last match.  I think it could be quite high scoring, so it’s a 2-2 prediction for me, and as for my prediction off the pitch, lots of worrying, a couple of scuffles but nothing major to happen and Polish-Russian relations  to be, if anything, strengthened by this football  pageantry.  Well we can but dream.

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