WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Greece

WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Greece

COACH – Fernando Santos
BEST SHOWING – Group Stage 1994, 2010
QUALIFICATION – 2nd in UEFA Qualifying Group G, defeated Romania in a play-off
TOURNAMENT ODDS – 350/1 (BoyleSports)
FIXTURES
June 14th – Colombia (1700 BST, Belo Horizonte, BBC)
June 19th – Japan (2300 BST, Natal, BBC)
June 24th – Ivory Coast (2100 BST, Fortaleza, BBC)

Button Colombia Button Ivory Coast Button Japan

The Greeks have punched above their weight for over a decade now with their “bore opponents to death” style which saw them claim an against the odds tournament victory in Euro 2004. Greece have qualified for every major tournament since with the exception of the 2006 World Cup.

They don’t win football matches with aesthetically pleasing play, they win them by playing within their limitations, defending en masse and hoping to nick a goal with a set piece – but to be fair they turned on a bit of style in their play-off win.

The style was part of the reason they had to settle for a play-off against Romania to get to Brazil. Despite tying with the group toppers Bosnia and Herzegovina, their goal difference was 16 inferior to the Bosnians.

Coach Fernando Santos has experimented with a few different formations but 4-3-3 is his weapon of choice. Orestis Karnezis and Alexandros Tsorvas will compete for the goalkeeper’s jersey.

The Greek strength is their defence. Roma’s Vasilis Torosidis is a fine right back and Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a commanding figure in the centre of defence. Avraam Papadopoulos should partner him in a committed defensive unit that is well disciplined and hard to break down.

Giorgos Karagounis remains the Greeks’ only playmaker and at 37 this will probably be his last tournament. Kostas Katsouranis made the provisional squad too. Giannis Fetfatzidis is another option but he prefers a wide role compared to the central role the middle Greek three deploy.

The Greeks will use striker Georgios Samaras and his ability to bring others into play as well but they won’t rely on the Celtic man for goals – 8 in 71 internationals is a pitiful strike rate. Theofanis Gekas is the main source of Greek goals and the three up front look to feed on scraps the midfield serve them. Fulham didn’t see the best of Kostas Mitroglou this term but he can score and hold up play in the box too.

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ONE TO WATCH

05 WORLD CUP FETFATZIDISIn a side short of creative options, the Greeks have the option of Fetfatzidis if Karagounis fails to fire. He offers Fernando Santos a pacy alternative and isn’t afraid to take on a defender or whip in a cross.

He can play in the centre of the park if needed but prefers to play out wide. His skill, agility and vision could see him become the Greek playmaker.

This season he’s been used sparingly by Genoa, with the majority of his 31 appearances having come from the substitutes bench. But the former Olympiakos man will hope a successful World Cup will improve his club fortunes.

HERE COMES D-JUDGE
D-Judge

As usual the Greeks are outsiders. Written off, not a hope in hell and the generation that won the European Championship in Portugal is on its last legs.

What the Greeks can do though is flourish in tight situations and they’ll relish games that are level with minutes to go and they have plenty of experience of those scenarios.

They’ll provide the sort of tricky opposition that Colombia could implode against first off and whilst I think the Colombians will triumph, I can’t completely write off the train of thought that the Greeks will nick a 1-0 win over superior opposition.

The problem will be if they concede first. Greece have very little to answer with after they go behind and the way they’re set up means they’re not the sort of side who flourish when chasing a game.

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VERDICT

They’ll frustrate their opponents for a time and won’t go home in disgrace but I can’t see them getting out of the group.

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Danos Nikolaidis (D-Good)
Owls Alive
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TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83


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