UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Greece

Population 10.7 million Area 131,990km2 Capital Athens Currency Euro Official Language Greek

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Ελληνική Ποδοσφαιρική Ομοσπονδία (EPO) Official Site http://www.epo.gr Year of formation 1926 Euro Ranking 10 World Ranking 14 National Stadium Athens Olympic Stadium, Athens Well-known club sides Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, PAOK Leading goalscorer Nikos Anastoppious (29) Most capped player Theodoros Zagorakis (120) European Championship finals attended 1980, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Winners 2004 Playing Record in European Championship P114 W55 D22 L37 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 66/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

Given the lack of attacking talent at Greece’s disposal it’s dismissive, but not entirely dangerous to say it would be a miracle for them to repeat their achievements of 2004 in Poland & Ukraine. While our hats remain firmly tipped at the most awesome of achievements, we are quite sure that for Greece at least lighting will not be striking twice.

Goals are simply too hard to come by for this team at the moment. They were the lowest scoring of all the UEFA EURO 2012 qualified countries, finding the net an impoverished 14 times in their 10 games and even recalling 32-year-old Angelos Charisteas from the international wilderness.

The good news for Greece fans is that they were resilient defensively. Under Otto Rehhagel, they were miserly in gifting opportunities and remain as unyielding now, conceding just five goals in qualifying.

Unfortunately for the neutral then, it would appear Greece will sit tight, defend as a unit with 10 mean behind the ball, and look to benefit from the minimal opportunities they create. they were the kings of narrow wins in qualifying, so why commit sporting suicide at the main event?

We’re forgetting one thing in all this negative points though: they were undefeated in their group and forced Croatia into a play-off dogfight. While being no pushovers, they will hold little feat going into the finals.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

03/09/2010 – Group F – Greece 1-1 Georgia
07/09/2010 – Group F – Coratia 0-0 Greece
08/10/2010 – Group F – Greece 1-0 Latvia
12/10/2010 – Group F – Greece 2-1 Israel
26/03/2011 – Group F – Malta 0-1 Greece
04/06/2011 – Group F – Greece 3-1 Malta
02/09/2011 – Group F – Israel 0-1 Greece
06/09/2011 – Group F – Latvia 1-1 Greece
02/10/2011 – Group F – Greece 2-0 Croatia
11/10/2011 – Group F – Georgia 1-2 Greece

HOME AND AWAY KITS

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP A

Friday, 08/06 – Poland v Greece (Warsaw, 17:00)
Tuesday, 12/06 – Greece v Czech Republic (Wroclaw, 17:00)
Saturday, 16/06 – Greece v Russia (Warsaw, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Kostas Chalkias (PAOK FC), Michalis Sifakis (Aris Thessaloniki FC), Alexandros Tzorvas (US Città di Palermo).

Defenders: Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiacos FC), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (FC Schalke 04), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (SV Werder Bremen), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiacos FC), José Holebas (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Tzavellas (AS Monaco FC), Stelios Malezas (PAOK FC).

Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos FC), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK FC), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens FC), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiacos FC), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos FC), Kostas Fortounis (1. FC Kaiserslautern).

Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic FC), Fanis Gekas (Samsunspor), Nikos Liberopoulos (AEK Athens FC), Kostas Mitroglou (Atromitos FC).

THE CAPTAIN – GIORGOS KARAGOUNIS

Karagounis scored the opening goal in the opening game of UEFA EURO 2004 against hosts Portugal, and, to the football world’s shock, lifted the trophy 22 days later in Lisbon. He embodies the battling spirit of the side, which sometimes gets him on the wrong side of the referees. Karagounis holds the record for the most yellow cards in the European Championship. A tough player indeed.

THE KEEPER – ALEXANDROS TZORVAS

Moved to Italy and the Sicilian capital of Palermo for the start of the 2011/12 season and has received a mixed reception after some patchy performances. he remains the first choice for his country though, and has earned consistently good reviews after Greece’s fine defensive performances during the qualification period. Will be a much busier man at this tournament.

STAR MAN – SORITIS NINIS

Born in Albania to Greek parents, Sotiris Ninis is Fernando Santos’ trump card, his diamond in the rough if you like that. In a side somewhat weighed down by seniority and dogged experience Ninis, who plays in the hole behind the strikers, provides the spark, the enthusiasm and the guile that can lift this Gree team to better things. He possesses great vision, the ability to pick the right pass and a fearsome shot. He won the Greek Young Footballer of the Year in 2007 and 2010, and will be looking turn some heads this summer.

THE MANAGER – FERNANDO SANTOS

The task of replacing Otto Rehhagel was never going to be an easy one. Fernando Santos’ predecessor delivered the most unlikely trophy in football history to Athens in 2004 – but to his credit, Santos has made an immediate impact. He has led Greece to UEFA EURO 2012 as group winners, brusing aside Slaven Bilic’s Croatia in the process. His approach bears similarities with Rehhagel’s – physical teams that are tough to break down – and steering Greece through Group A will probably be limit of his ambitions here.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Group Stage – It won’t be easy for the Blue-Whites to get out of their group. They will not have passionate home support of co-hosts Poland, lack the flair of Russia and the attacking threat of Czech Republic. Even though Greece will be hard to break down, but their lack of creative midfielders and quality strikers will be the main reason behind their failure to get out of the easiest looking group at the tournament. A solid defence and team spirit are unlikely to be enough.

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