Tag: Russia

Euro 2012: Group A – The Final Day

The bunting will be hanging limp in Warsaw and Wroclaw this afternoon. Poland, the co-hosts of the 2012 European Championships, have been eliminated from the competition at the end of an evening which also saw a Russian team which sparkled in its opening match last week against the Czech Republic eliminated. A group which had caused some to roll their eyes ended up providing absolute fascination, with the mathematical permutations of it all stretching to the dying seconds of the last match to finish last night. Going into yesterday evenings matches, any of the four teams could still qualify for a place in the quarter-finals of the competition and throughout the evening the “As It Stands” group table showed, at varying points, three of the teams as being in the top two spots. When the dust had settled, however, it was the team that arrived at half-time in their opening match a goal down and a man down, Greece, and a Czech Republic side that was beaten out of sight in its opening match that would occupy the much-coveted top two positions. On a rainy night in Wroclaw, the task ahead of Poland was a reasonably simple one. A win against the Czech Republic would be enough to see them edge through to the quarter-finals, and they hared from the traps with six attempts on goal in the opening...

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New Century, Old Tensions: Russian & Polish Supporters Clash In Warsaw

For those amongst us of a certain age, the scenes from the streets of Warsaw yesterday afternoon and evening had a wearyingly familiar look to them – streets of mostly young men, mostly wearing terrible clothes, trading kicks and punches on the street of a European city whilst others, including, of course, a media that had over the last few days given every impression of really looking forward to this moment, looked on. The Polish police had been aware of the potential for crowd trouble to come from the fixture between Poland and Russia, but even a tightly co-ordinated effort on their part to keep the peace on the streets of their capital city c0uldn’t fully contain those that wanted to fight and the result was one hundred and eighty-three arrests – with more to expected to follow – and ten injuries. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, an effervescent match was played out which ended in an honorable draw which keeps both with one eye on qualification from their group with one match left to play. Where, though, might we start to apportion blame for the scenes in Warsaw yesterday afternoon and evening? Moreover, does it even matter whose “fault” it was? At street level, perhaps, it doesn’t. There were evidently plenty of people in Warsaw yesterday afternoon of either nation that were spoiling for a fight, and to...

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Euro 2012: Poland 1-1 Russia

Some matches have a backdrop that is more than just about football, and with more than a dozen military conflicts between the two nations over the last millennia, feelings run high. As well as a presence of around 6000 Polish police officers, an estimated 5000 Russian fans marched through Warsaw. This march wasn’t one proclaiming military might, but political freedom, as June 12 is Russia Day, a national holiday to commemorate the day the Russian parliament declared sovereignty from the former Soviet Union. With the historical context, and the warnings of hooliganism being rife in Poland, there was always a likelihood of conflict off the pitch, and while there have been skirmishes between rival fans, the feeling coming out of Poland at the time of writing is that this has been blown up by the media to satisfy their moral panic coming into the tournament.   The Russian national anthem is accompanied by a huge banner proclaiming “THIS IS RUSSIA”. It is also accompanied by a lot of boos, so much so that the local TV producers seemingly cut the microphones to all but the ladies singing the anthem, and the area in front of the Russian fans. When the music stops, the booing is all that is left, and it is a cacophony, ringing round this packed Warsaw stadium. The Polish national anthem is sung with more gust...

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Euro 2012: Russia 4-1 Czech Republic

There is a school of thought which suggests that part of the reason behind the global success of football lays in its occasionally ruthless depiction of the fallibility of humanity. We watch this game above all others for the brilliance and the horrendous, and all stops in between. The first match of the 2012 European Championships demonstrated this in spades. Both Poland and Greece were sporadically excellent and horrific, and the result was a match which surpassed the low expectations that most had for it before it started. Moreover, their draw meant that this evenings game between Russia and The Czech Republic kicked off with this most enigmatic of groups looking no more resolvable than it had a couple of hours earlier. Within twenty-five minutes of kick-off in Wroclaw this evening, however, this fog had started to lift. Russia had intermittently sparkled at the last European Championships but had followed this up with a failure to qualify for the World Cup finals, while the Czechs have flattered to deceive since reaching the semi-finals of the competition eight years ago, only qualifying for this tournament thanks to a ropey last minute penalty kick against Scotland in their group and a play-off win against Montenegro. Having edged through the play-offs, there had been few signs of any improvement on their part in recent months and with some wondering whether Russia, with...

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