Euro 2012 Preview: Greece

Euro 2012 Preview: Greece
Fernando Santos
Winners 2004
Group F Winners
8 (Apr 2008)
66 (Sep 1998)
100/1 (boylesports)

June 8th – Poland (1700 BST, Warsaw, BBC)
June 12th – Czech Republic (1700 BST, Wroclaw, ITV)
June 16th – Russia (1945 BST, Warsaw, BBC)

Prior to 2004 the Greeks had only qualified for one World Cup and one European Championship – since then the Greeks have only missed the 2006 World Cup Finals – an unheralded success for them.They surprised everyone in Portugal 2004 upsetting the odds and lifting the trophy in a style that was at best organised, at worst parking the bus.Yes, they won but they didn’t exactly win many fans doing it. Little has changed in their style in the 8 years since with Rehhagel and latterly Fernando Santos choosing the same approach as Croatia painfully found out.With the three goalkeepers in his provisional squad not having a lot of game time in their domestic campaigns it’ll be interesting to see who Santos chooses between the sticks with it being likely to be Palermo back up Alexandros Tsorvas or Michalis Sifakis who did miss a chunk of the Greek season with injury.

Santos does play a 4-3-3 formation but it isn’t really the two wingers, one forward approach that some opt for more like three forwards roaming for scraps with the other 7 outfield players behind the ball.

Defensively Vasilis Torosidis is the only right back selected in the provisional squad but Santos does have the versatile Sokratis Papastathopoulos as back up if needed.

Veterans Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis will play the central midfield role as they did in 2004 with Monaco’s Alexandros Tziolis likely to play alongside them.

The Greeks don’t play with wingers so the three forwards searching for scraps will probably be Celtic man Giorgos Samaras, Samsunspor’s Theofanis Gekas and PAOK’s Dimitris Salpigidis.

Angelos Charisteas – scorer of the winning goal in Euro 2004 has been left out alongside Ioannis Fetfatzidis, one of the hottest prospects in Greek football in favour of 36 year old Nikos Liberopoulos.


The 20 year old has been immense in the Bundesliga this year for Schalke with him being near the top of the league for interceptions, tackles and blocked shots.

A centre-back who can also play in the holding role in front of the back four, he is also a huge danger on set-pieces.

Papadopoulos made his senior debut aged just 15 for Olympiakos in 2007 and was an unused substitute in the 07/08 Champions League campaign on a couple of occasions.

Signing for Schalke in 2010 Papadopoulos has now become a regular in the Gelsenkirchen based team and has been hailed as the future of Greek football after scoring on his senior international debut

We know what we’re getting with Greece, they will get men behind the ball, they will look to threaten with set-pieces, they are a physically strong outfit but it is a style that does not see them score many with European minnows Georgia and Latvia able to hold them to draws with qualifying and the Greeks even struggled to beat Malta.They don’t concede many and also boast a lot of experience but the tactics employed don’t lead much to creativity,guile and excitement.It’s a tactic that works for them but it’s stifled, unimaginative and whilst they can frustrate better sides, if set-pieces don’t come off for them they look painfully short of ideas on how to break teams down.With Greece not having a lot to shout about, the football team is carrying a lot of hope to help the nation temporarily forget their troubles, doing it is a tough ask.

They have half a chance in the weakest group of the four and will do well to reach the last eight.
A repeat of 2004 will be a sporting miracle.

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

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