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05/06/2012 Leave a Comment

The Czech Republic and Greece on Sunday became the first teams competing in Euro 2012 to arrive in Poland, a UEFA official said, with the opening matches in the tournament less than a week away.

Both teams have been drawn with tournament co-hosts Poland and Russia in Group A, with the first matches on Friday.

Poland take on Euro 2004 champions Greece in the opener in the capital Warsaw, while Russia play the Czech Republic in the southwestern city of Wroclaw.

A UEFA of ficial told AFP that the Czech Republic arrived in Wroclaw from Prague in a specially-chartered high-speed t rain, with the locomotive pulling the squad decked out in the red, white and blue livery of the team colours.

“I don’t even remember the last time I caught a train,” defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was quoted as saying on before boarding the service that took them over the border.

“It could be when I was small and went to visit my grandfather.

It’s certainly more convenient than going by bus. I hope a lot of our fans will follow the same tracks to come and support us for a few days.

The Czech team had a scare last week after reports suggested there were traces of the potentially-deadly Legionella bacteria at their training camp hotel but Polish health inspectors later declared the venue safe. Fernando Santos’ Greece, surprise winners of the tournament eight years ago in Portugal, also jetted in on Sunday and will be based near Warsaw. They beat Armenia 1- 0 in a friendly in Austria last week.

Dick Advocaat’s Russia, fresh from a 3-0 warm-up win over Italy in Zurich on Friday, were due to arrive in Warsaw on Sunday evening.

Their central Warsaw hotel, Le Meridien Bristol, has been at the centre of a diplomatic spat because of concerns about a scheduled rally on June 10 by Poland’s Moscow-critical opposition.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski even stepped in last month, saying he had no problem with the Russians staying at the five-star hotel after sports minister Joanna Mucha had suggested they move.

The Russian football federation and Advocaat refused, dismissing the concerns as a media exaggeration. Poland, who beat Andorra 4-0 in a warm-up game on Saturday, meanwhile held a public training session at Polonia Warsaw’s ground on Sunday in front of several thousand good-natured fans, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

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