THE Euro 2004 champions enjoyed an excellent qualifying campaign finishing top of their group, above Croatia and managing to stay unbeaten.
Much like the Euro 2004 winning team, the Greeks have a solid defence, yet they are arguably more adventurous in their play this time round and could surprise teams. They will be hoping to repeat the trick of 2004 where they defeated the hosts in the opening game. If they repeat that, the Greeks will feel confident of reaching the next round.
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos was the man picked to take over Euro 2004 winner Otto Rehhagel, and so far he’s done excellently, qualifying top of the group and going on a 16 match unbeaten run. Familiar with Greek football from his time managing Greek teams including Panathinaikos and PAOK, Santos has slowly brought in younger talents such as Soitiris Ninis and Giannis Fetfatzidis to freshen up the squad. Along with these changes the coach has also introduced a more attacking brand of football whilst still trying to stay faithful to their identity of defensive organisation.
Despite being 35 legendary Greek midfielder Giorgos Karagounis is still an important part of the Greek side. As dangerous from free kicks as he is at winning them, the ex Inter star will look to provide creativity and keep possession in what is a team based more on athleticism than guile. Karagounis ould also become Greece’s all time record cap holder in the tournament should Greece progress.
One to watch
Dubbed by Greek fans as ‘the Greek Messi’ Giannis Fetfatzidis is an exciting dribbler with who Santos will probably use as an impact player off the bench. The 21 year old Olympiakos attacker made six appearances in the qualifiers scoring 2 goals and is considered to be the future of Greek football.
Why they could have a good tournament...
They have a very capable defence (they only conceded 5 in qualifying and will be a major threat from set pieces where the delivery from Karagounis will be important. Of that defence is highly rated Schalke stopper Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Sokratis, the man who did an exceptional man marking job on Lionel Messi in the world cup.
Why they could have a bad tournament...
Even though they do have a more attacking outlook under Santos they still lack goals. The front three of Fanis Gekas, Dimirtis Salpingidis and Celtic’s Giorgos Samaras combined to score just 3 goals on qualifying. While they may be able to nick the odd goal in the group stage to advance it’s unlikely that they’ll have the quality to trouble anybody in the quarter finals.