Euro 2012 Poland-Russia duel steeped in emotion: press
(WARSAW) - Polish media reflected the mounting tension in Warsaw before Tuesday's highly-charged Russia-Poland Euro 2012 match, a coupling with long historical conflict that has set off security concerns.
Thousands of Russian football fans are also expected to march over a central Warsaw bridge ahead of the high-octane game at the new national stadium, putting police on high alert for any brawls that might erupt between the rival team fans.
"For years, no match has stirred this many emotions. We can't avoid historical and patriotic references to the time when the playing field was the only spot where, in an honest fight, we could beat the Russians," Rzeczpospolita said Tuesday.
"Neither the Soviet Union nor communist Poland exist anymore but the emotions have lingered," the conservative daily added.
"The police may experience their most difficult day since the start of Euro 2012," Gazeta Wyborcza said, with the match falling on Russia's national day.
Also fuelling anxiety was the importance of the Group A clash for Poland, who drew 1-1 against Greece in the tournament opener last Friday while Russia beat the Czech Republic 4-1.
The tournament co-hosts need to win to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the quarter-final stage.
"Poland and Russia are entering into battle. In this clash, no result will be neutral," the DGP daily chimed.
Others alluded to history to convey the difficult game awaiting the Poles.
"It won't be a simple march across Warsaw, alas, but massive air raids against the Polish net," the centre-left daily Gazeta Wyborcza said, referencing large-scale bombing in WWII.
"Above all, we must survive this match," it added.
Sporting encounters between Poland and Russia always have an extra edge due to antipathy spanning the Tsarist and Soviet eras, stoked by Moscow's resurgence under President Vladimir Putin.
The tabloid Super Express called on Poland Tuesday to "beat the Russian!" and published a photo montage of Polish star striker Robert Lewandowski in uniform of the Polish cavalry from the 17th century.
Only the other big tabloid Fakt stood out with the message, "Calm down! This is just one match..."
Co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine the Euro 2012 championships are being held behind the former Iron Curtain for the first time. The games kicked off Friday in Warsaw ahead of the July 1 final in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
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