Tensions between the Czechs and Russians have largely evaporated in the decades since Soviet troops led a Warsaw Pact occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
But they live on in sporting arenas - particularly ice hockey rinks - and will be renewed Friday at Wroclaw's Municipal Stadium, just hours after Group A rivals Poland and Greece kick off the European Championship in Warsaw.
Czech Republic team manager Vladimir Smicer has fond memories of the countries' last meeting at a European Championship, in 1996. He scored a final-minute goal to salvage a 3-3 draw that was enough to put the Czechs through and eliminate Russia from a tournament where the Czechs finished runners-up.
If the Czechs are to reproduce that run to the final at Euro 2012, coach Michal Bilek will need striker Milan Baros to be fully fit.
The Galatasaray star strained a muscle in training Tuesday and is struggling to be ready for his team's opener, although a scan Wednesday showed no major muscle damage for the 30...