Greece managed to battle their way back from a goal and a man down to secure a draw with Poland in their opening Euro 2012 fixture ahead of their second game against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
If the Czech Republic are to reach the latter stages of the competition they will need big performances from the likes of Vaclav Pilar, who scored their only goal against Russia and managed to impress despite the defeat, Jaroslav Plasil and Premier League pair Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky.
Indeed, Chelsea keeper Cech insists all is not lost and insists his side can still qualify from Group A.
“The first game sometimes shows what the group will be like but it’s not the key one,” noted the talented shot-stopper.
“The crucial game will be the second one (against Greece). If we fail in that one, our chances of advancing will be very thin.
“A 4-1 defeat doesn’t look the best but it’s basically the same as 1-0…you simply get no points.
“We lost a battle, not the war. The good thing is we still have 180 minutes to advance. We have to look ahead, that’s what matters now.”
Greece looked bereft of ideas in the opening 45 minutes against Poland but the extremely harsh dismissal of Papastathopoulos seemed to galvanise Santos’ side as they produced an assured second-half display.
In fact, Greece could well have gone on to win the game had it not been for a fine penalty save by Polish substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton following Wojciech Szczesny’s second-half sending off.
The Czech Republic struggled with the pace and swift movement of the Russians and should get more time on the ball against Greece, who are well organised and rely perhaps a little too much on the ageing Giorgos Karagounis as their creative outlet.
With the stakes high for both sides this contest promises to be a close affair as both countries cannot afford to lose, especially the Czechs who could be all but eliminated should they lose and Poland win in the later kick off.