x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Euro 2012: Polish press ramp up tension for Russia encounter

Newspapers liken Group A to match to a 1920 battle between the two nations with a big police presence expected in Warsaw.

Polish train at Polonia Warszawa Stadium in Warsaw ahead of Tuesday's game against Russia. Pawel Supernak / EPA
Polish train at Polonia Warszawa Stadium in Warsaw ahead of Tuesday's game against Russia. Pawel Supernak / EPA

WARSAW, Poland // In Warsaw you could be forgiven for thinking Poland's army is going into battle with Russia rather than its football team.

Polish papers went to town yesterday on references to Poland's victorious 1920 battle against the Bolshevik Army, known as the Miracle on the Vistula, fuelling simmering nationalist sentiments on the eve of the Group A Euro 2012 match at the National Stadium.

Poles still take pride in the victory, which was seen at the time as halting the spread of communism into Europe.

The Super Express tabloid carried a front page mocked-up picture of Poland coach Franciszek Smuda charging on horseback, sabre in hand, in a 1920 Polish army uniform under the headline "Faith, Hope, Smuda," - a play on an old army motto: "Faith, Home, Motherland."

Super Express went on to warn the Russians against assuming they will win tonight.

"In 1920 they also thought that and ... they got a spanking," the tabloid said. "Tomorrow they will get the taste of defeat again, because Poland's team will show them Miracle on the Vistula 2."

The highly-charged match falls on Russia Day, a national holiday, and Russian fans are planning to march from downtown to the stadium, a move seen as provocative by many Poles.

The fans' march to the stadium will be heavily policed after Russia supporters were shown in video posted online beating stewards at their team's first match, against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw on Friday night.

Uefa has launched disciplinary proceedings against the Russia football federation for its fans behaviour during and after the 4-1 win.

A win would put Russia through to the quarter-finals with one group match still to play.

"We concentrate on the game and not outside things," Russia coach Dick Advocaat said. Greece take on the Czech Republic in the group's other game, with defeat for the Czechs putting them out.

* Associated Press

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