Smuda criticised for lack of Poland substitutes

Poland coach Franciszek Smuda has come under fire for not refreshing his flagging side with substitutions in their Euro 2012 opener with Greece and will have to make changes for Tuesday's politically-charged clash with Russia.

Local media and fans were unhappy that Smuda failed to replace players like left-back Sebastian Boenisch, who was the most obvious struggler in a poor second half performance during their 1-1 draw in Group A on Friday.

The Poles looked worn out after pressing Greece strongly for half an hour under the national stadium's closed-roof humidity.

Midfielders Maciej Rybus and Ludovic Obraniak will be pressed by Kamil Grosicki and Rafal Wolski for places against Russia, although Smuda is known for sticking to his guns.

His only change was the forced introduction of Przemyslaw Tyton, who saved a penalty after the sending off of Wojciech Szczesny, as both sides finished the game with 10 men.

"Smuda very clearly goes weak at the knees at the very thought of the tiniest change in his opening line-up," Rafal Stec wrote in the country's main broadsheet daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

"Its terrifying to think what might happen if we had further suspensions. All of the reserves now also know clearly how little trust he has in them."

The clash with their Soviet era masters in Warsaw on Tuesday carries special meaning for the Poles after a plane crash two years ago that killed then president Lech Kaczynski and for which many still blame the Russians.

On the field, an Andrei Arshavin-inspired Russia's 4-1 drubbing of the Czech Republic in Friday's late game struck fear into fans of the host nation, who feel they must take at least a point from the game to keep alive any hopes of qualifying.

Newspaper headlines talked of the Russian "hurricane" set to descend on Warsaw.

"If we play as we did in the first half against Greece, and as Greece played in the second half against us, then there's a chance we could lose by less than the Czechs," commentator Michal Pol tweeted after the Russia game.

Greece next face the Czech Republic in a virtual home game for Vladimir Smicer's side in Wroclaw just a few miles from the Czech border, without their two first-choice centre backs.

Coach Fernando Santos will be without the suspended Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who was sent off against the Poles, and Avraam Papadopoulos who is out of the tournament with a knee injury.


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