The number of Polish fans watching the Czech Republic practice drops after their 1-0 victory over Poland, and Petr Cech warns that his side should not be overlooked against Portugal.
Euro 2012: Czechs now getting cold shoulder from Poles
WROCLAW, Poland // The number of Polish fans watching the Czechs in training has fallen dramatically since the Czech Republic beat Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland 1-0 on Saturday, Czech media said on Monday.
As Group A winners, the Czechs now face Portugal on Thursday in the Euro 2012 quarter-final.
Poland were eliminated.
"They've probably gone to work," said Daniel Kolar, the Czech midfielder, as the crowd watching Monday's morning training had shrunk to fewer than a hundred from 3,000 watching last week's sessions. "People probably expected something different and now they're disappointed."
Polish flags vanished from balconies, windows and cars throughout the southwestern city of Wroclaw where the Czech team played all three group games.
The football fever in Wroclaw is now waning.
Wednesday, they will travel to Warsaw for the quarter-final, before returning to Wroclaw.
Last Saturday night, the home crowd decked out in red-and-white did their utmost to help their team advance at the expense of their southern neighbours.
On other occasions, the Polish fans have never concealed how close the Czechs are.
"They got the ovation we know from the stadium, when both players and the audience hold hands and raise them repeatedly facing each other," said Jaroslav Kolar, a Czech team spokesman.
As the Czech team arrived at their hotel after Saturday's game, they received a warm welcome from about 400 people, most of them Poles.
"Poland probably won't declare a public holiday when the Czechs have a training session on a weekday," said Michael Kadlec, the Czech defender, looking at the empty stands on Monday morning.
"But we're grateful for the applause from this small bunch of fans all the same."
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Petr Cech, the Czech Republic goalkeeper, says despite Euro 2012 quarter-final opponents Portugal being viewed as favourites for Thursday's game he believes the Czechs could cause an upset.
"We haven't lost yet; of course you can beat anyone on a good day," said the keeper, who helped Chelsea lift the Champions League trophy last month.
"We definitely have a chance to advance. It's sport and anything can happen. They are among the world's top 10 teams. It's a team full of personalities and outstanding players, and they play very well. Against the Netherlands on Sunday, they were excellent up front."
Far from being wary of a quarter-finals showdown with Germany, Greece's players are thriving on their "life-or-death" matches, according to their coach Fernando Santos. Faced with elimination from the tournament, Greece beat Russia 1-0 in their last Group A game to squeeze into the last eight.
Santos said that the absolute need to win that match had helped his players overcome their earlier lapses in concentration.
"I think knockout games are good for us because the players concentrate from the start of the game. When it's life-and-death, all or nothing, that has been an advantage for us," Santos told a news conference.
Lars Bender has said his first start and goal for Germany will stay long in the memory after his winning strike set up Friday's quarter-final against Greece. He converted Mesut Ozil's pass to seal the 2-1 win which confirmed Germany as Group B winners.
"It was quite lucky that I happened to be in the right place at the right time, but you don't stop to think about it, you just hit it," said Bender. "The manager believed in me and that's why I felt very much at ease."
Michel Platini, the Uefa President, says he is unhappy that some Croatia fans have tarnished a European Championship he described as "99 per cent great."
Platini tells reporters he is delighted with co-hosts Poland and Ukraine who "have already won the Euro".
However, Platini said: "I am not happy with the Croatian people."
Uefa has charged Croatia's football association after fans made monkey noises at Italy's Mario Balotelli.
Platini says only "10 stupid people" were responsible for fighting in Warsaw when Poland played Russia. As for the football, Platini says Holland's exit shows Euro 2012 is "more difficult than the World Cup".
Nicklas Bendtner, the Denmark striker, has been banned for one competitive fixture and fined €100,000 (Dh480,000) by Uefa after he lowered his shorts after scoring in the Euro 2012 clash with Portugal.
Bendtner, 24, was found guilty of improper conduct by European football's governing body after he revealed the logo of a company on his underpants in the match on June 13.
Bendtner said: "It is just a pair of lucky boxer shorts that I used in the first game as well and have used before the tournament.
"I didn't know that I was breaking any rules."
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