Poland Ready to Get Things Started
Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski and his team-mates will realise a dream when the co-hosts kick off Euro 2012 against Greece in Warsaw on Friday night.
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The Group A opener at the National Stadium will finally bring to an end the long wait Franciszek Smuda's side have had to endure before the tournament gets under way, but will also see Poland attempt to handle the expectations of their home fans.
And with the group draw having landed the co-hosts in arguably the most easily negotiable group in the tournament, hopes are high of a place in the knockout stages despite being the lowest ranked side in the competition.
But Borussia Dortmund winger Blaszczykowski insists that the pressure to perform will only serve as a motivation for the team, and they will go out and try to enjoy the occasion.
The 26-year-old told a press conference: "The whole country has great expectations and we are aware of it but it will only motivate us to win.
"These are things players wait their whole career for - to play in a tournament like this, in such a great stadium.
"This is a dream come true, the only thing we can do is realise those dreams and make them last."
Smuda, who has doubts over the fitness of defender Damien Perquis as the Sochaux centre-half recovers from an elbow fracture, is sure his side are ready, and laughed off a question about whether he would have to check is his players were in bed early.
"I know I can rely on them," he said.
"They have convinced me in every way during the last two and a half years; I just hope myself that together we will achieve what we desire.
"Journalists say they have nothing to write about because there are no scandals or problems. I think we are a very professional national team."
Greece opened their 2004 triumph with victory over hosts Portugal, and they will once again be looking to spoil the party.
They have lost just one of 21 games under Fernando Santos and were unbeaten during their qualifying campaign.
Santos has injury concerns over defender Vassilis Torosidis, who has a knee problem, and Sotiris Ninis, who is set to overcome a shoulder issue to feature.
Captain Giorgos Karagounis played a part in the surprise 2004 victory, and the 35-year-old midfielder says it is vital that Greece come out of their first match with at least a point.
He said: "If you cannot win then you must not lose because it is the first match.
"We know what we are capable of as a side and we will try and produce it on the pitch.
"Since there are so few games you cannot afford to make any mistakes."