Most wagers would not have had Greece and the Czechs coming out of the group. But it's beginning to feel like the Greeks will make a habit of just sticking around long enough, doing just enough when everyone else falls apart around them to go through. Just like 2004, they ambushed the hosts on the opening day of the tournament, then found enough points in the next two games while Russia urinated all over itself. This time, the Poles took the place of the Spanish, but the script feels the same.
As for the Czechs, it's kind of amazing they won the group. They were a runway for the Russians in the opener. Put together only about a good 20 minutes against the Greeks, and then were solidly the second side for the first half against the hosts. But what have we learned all season? If you don't take the chances you make, you're asking for it. The Czechs benefited from that today, cashing in one of the chances they created in the second 45, and then letting Poland flail about in a futile effort.
You feel bad for the Poles. Their games were filled with drama and some pretty high quality attacking play. But they should have snuffed out Greece long before the Greeks equalized in that game, but they didn't. In the end, they were lucky to get a draw out of that one. They had more than enough possession and attempts against Russia, but a draw there wasn't unacceptable. But what they will probably kick themselves about for the rest of the summer is how they simply froze up in the 2nd half. Maybe a tournament that clearly meant so much to all meant too much. But with qualification in their own hands, only needing to win the second half, and they didn't come close. They barely threatened until it was too late. One of Europe's most feared strikers barely had any service. That's simply too bad.
As for the Russians, they clearly played the best football in the group. But considering what their fans got up to at times, with the troubles with Polish fans (as much on them as well, to be fair) and the reported racist abuse at Gebre Sellassie, ti's a support that won't be missed. Even if the team might be.