Greece Preview – Greek Tragedy Or Triumph?
World Cup 2014
At only their third World Cup few will expect much from a workmanlike Greek side but they will fancy their own chances of making the knockout rounds for the first time.
Greece have played only twice since sealing qualification and failed to win either as they were defeated 2-0 by South Korea before seeing out a goalless draw with Portugal at the end of May. They have further friendlies to come against Nigeria and Bolivia to get up to pace before the serious action gets underway.
After finishing second to Bosnia in their group on goal difference Greece came through their play-off against Romania quite comfortably with a 4-2 win on aggregate largely thanks to three goals across the two legs for Kostas Mitroglou. Only Spain conceded fewer than Greece’s four in qualifying and their defensive resiliance will again be their strongest point as their blunt attack scored only 12 goals in their group despite facing weak sides such as Latvia and Liechtenstein.
Greece’s is certainly one of the more diverse squads made up of players from England, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Italy and of course their own league. Mitroglou is something of a surprise inclusion in the Greek squad as he has only played two hours of competitve football since joining Fulham in January due to a litany of injury problems. Fellow Fulham star Giorgos Karagounis will skipper the side from a defensive midfield berth. Georgios Samaras will be in the shop window as the striker is not continuing at Celtic next season.
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos).
Defenders: Kostas Manolas, Giannis Maniatis, Jose Holebas (all Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Giorgios Tzavellas (PAOK), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Vasilis Torosidis (Roma), Vangelis Moras (Verona).
Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Andreas Samaris (Olympiakos), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Ioannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna).
Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Giorgios Samaras (Celtic), Konstantinos Mitroglou (Fulham), Theofanis Gekas (Konyaspor).
Greece may be aided by the fact that they have a consistent five day period between all of their group games and should be prepared perfectly as a consequence. A draw looks likely to be a good result in their first game against Colombia, victory will be paramount against Japan and qualification is likely to be determined by the showdown with Ivory Coast.
14 June, Colombia v Greece, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00
19 June, Japan v Greece, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 23:00
24 June, Greece v Ivory Coast, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 21:00
This vastly experienced side shouldn’t be underestimated, they will be tricky for any team to play against and with that in mind it’s quite surprising to see them as the biggest price of any to escape Group C at 21/10 and that has to be a punt worth taking as a result. With significant doubts over the fitness of Mitroglou, Salpingidis is definitely worth backing to be his country’s top-scorer too.