Euro 2012 Preview: Greece
The Euro 2004 surprise winners who bored everyone to sleep on their way to an unlikely victory eight years ago. Last time around they had a completely different tournament to the victorious 2004, losing all three group games in 2008.
How Did They Qualify?
Comfortably. Greece were unbeaten in qualifying, winning seven and drawing three finishing just ahead of Croatia. They also conceded just five goals, one every two games which is an impressive record. However past Croatia the group offered little in the way of opposition with Israel, Georgia, Latvia and Malta.
Fernando Santos – a Portuguese man with a less than glamorous playing career but has managed some of the top clubs in both Portugal and Greece including Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, AEK Athens and Panathinaikos. According to some arbitrary FIFA ranking he was the ninth best manager in the world back in 2000. His most successful spell in management came around 1999 where he won the Portuguese league and a few cups with Porto. Santos doesn’t play quite the same football Otto Rehhagel did but it’s far from attacking and exciting.
Giorgos Karagounis – 35 – Midfielder
One of the class of 2004 and a creative midfielder who previously played for Benfica and Inter Milan. He is the second most capped Greek player ever and still an integral part of the squad despite his increasing age. Played 30 games for Panathinaikos this season.
Georgios Samaras – 27 – Striker
Greece’s star striker, which must be depressing for Greek fans. This season he has scored a mere six goals in 36 games for Celtic in a season in which his team won the league. He may find goals even harder to come by for Greece where he is often left plowing a lone furrow up front.
Ioannis Fetfatzidis – 21 – Midfielder
Every country has their own ‘Messi’ (except Scotland, however they do have their own Freddy Adu) and this is Greece’s superstar. The young Olympiacos winger has been putting in some eye catching displays which have seen him get into the national team and have a 12.5m Euro release clause.
How Far Can They Go?
It’s a tough group with a pretty level playing field. Greece will come up against Russia, The Czech Republic and co-hosts Poland. Unfortunately Greece are probably the worst of those four teams and they will likely struggle to make it out of the first round. If they do make it to the quarter finals that will be as far as it goes. Greece are a worse team than they were 2004 and a repeat will not happen.