Poland, Jun 11: Eight year later, the Czech Republic is still haunted by the Silver Goal scored by Greece in the 2004 semifinals.
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky, one of three players at this year's European Championship who was in the 2004 squad, has called it the most bitter moment of his international career.
“It was the most painful loss for me with the national team,” said Rosicky, who has made 86 international appearances since 2000. “We had no chance to come back.”
In 2004, the eventual champion Greeks scored seconds from the end of the first 15 minutes of extra time, sending the team through to the final and forcing the Czechs to head home.
After losing to Russia 4-1 on Friday at Euro 2012, the Czechs need a win over Greece on Tuesday at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw to have a chance of advancing from Group A.
“We have no other option than to beat Greece,” said Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech, another veteran of the 2004 team.
That may not be an easy task. The 2004 European champions, who drew 1-1 with Poland in their opener, remain reliant on a solid defense, conceding only five goals in qualifying and not a single one in the previous three goalless draws in regulation against the Czech Republic.
Goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis indicated that Greece would go on the attack in its next game as it bids for a place in the quarterfinals.
“We've studied our opponents,” Sifakis said. “We look at the opener as losing two points as much as earning one. We are now chasing a win on Tuesday.”
Neither team is considered to be a title contender in Poland and Ukraine.
The Czechs are rebuilding after the retirement of several long-serving internationals, including all-time leading scorer Jan Koller, Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky. And
Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek has little time to fix his porous back line after
Russia's mobile forwards tore it apart.
But at least, Bilek has two of his major stars, striker Milan Baros and Rosicky, fit and ready after recovering from injuries.
The Greeks, already missing two key defenders, were hit by another setback on Sunday when Giorgos Fotakis pulled out of training with a right thigh injury.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended and Avraam Papadopoulos is out for the rest of the tournament with a left knee injury.