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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Group B - Greece

Nickname – The Pirate Ship; Galanoleyki

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING

Finishing 2nd of a group that was topped by Switzerland had to make the Greeks play against another 2nd in other group, Ukraine. Euro 2004 re-edition and that’s how Rehhagel makes it, drawing 0-0 at home and hoping to hit on the counter-attack Ukraine playing away. Silpigidis only strike was enough to send them through to South Africa.

Making 20 points out of 30 in the easiest of groups does not seem to impress. 6 wins, 2 draws, 2 loses (both against Switzerland). GS 20 (10 scored by Gekas) GA 10.

H2H

Jun 12 Pt Elizabeth South Korea v Greece - Having only played against each other in friendly matches, the once European champion Greece never managed to defeat the Asians. South Korea won their 2 last encounters and drew another one.

Jun 17 Bloemfontein Greece v Nigeria - Payback time. Who will be the best in this clash? Nigeria won 0-2 vs Greece in the 1994 World Cup and later in 1999 on a friendly match Greece repaid with a 2-0 victory.

Jun Jun 22 Polokwane Greece v Argentina - If football was made only about history and stats. Argentina would go through the second round with 9 points. Only one match played and they trashed Greece 4-0 with the detail that beyond the Batistuta hat-trick, Maradona’s scored a goal in that 1994 world cup, that I state as the best ever so far.

Goalkeepers: Michalis Sifakis (Aris Salonika), Alexandros Tzorvas (Panathinaikos), Kostas Chalkias (PAOK Salonika)

Defenders: Giorgos Seitaridis (Panathinaikos), Loukas Vintra (Panathinaikos), Evangelos Moras (Bologna), Socrates Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Liverpool), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiakos), Vasilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), Nikos Spiropoulos (Panathinaikos), Stelios Malezas (PAOK Salonika)

Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos), Alexandros Tziolis (Siena), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos), Christos Patsatzoglou (Omonia), Sakis Prittas (Aris Salonika)

Strikers: Angelos Charisteas (Nuremberg), Dimitris Salpigidis (Panathinaikos), Pantelis Kapetanos (Steaua Bucharest), Theofanis Gekas (Hertha Berlin), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic)

FORMATION

Otto Rehhagel will bring a 5-4-1 defensive wall formation playing on the opponent’s errors. So, Tzorvas; Papastathopoulos , Spyropoulos, Moras, Kyrgiakos, Vyntra ; Karagounis, Katsouranis, Tziolis, Samaras; Gekas.

BEST PLAYERS

Kyrgiakos currently playing for Liverpool and even if he is a injury prone player that won’t make his influence struggle in the team. His aerial dominance through is 6’3 body build as well as his reckless but strong tackling provides Greece a safety status on the back and a voice of command in their ultra defensive formation.

Karagounis & Katsouranis are the players that run the show in the Greek National Team. Both are dynamic warriors as they move up & down the field working as destroyers of opponent’s passing game and to transform it into a counter attack goal opportunity. While Karagounis made his career in Panathinaikos, Internazionale and Benfica; Katsouranis made his name with the same teams except the experience in Italy.

Gekas delivered 10 of the 20 goals of the Greek team in the qualifying round meaning that even at his 30s he will be able to perform. He uses a combination of positioning and awareness to break those defenses he faces.

Ninis is a 20 year old starlet that defines the game of Panathinaikos having contributed is fair share of assists and 3 goals in a total of 37 appearances. The influence that he has at this young level explains his maturity and the reason why he is being tracked on a 10€M by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

SURPRISE

The surprise omissions are Portsmouth’s Basinas, Koutsianikoulis from PAOK often regarded as the new greek Messi.

STATEMENTS

“The players have been rewarded for their incredible passion and competitive spirit. We said that before achieving success you need to have the Gods on your side.” Otto Rehhagel, Greece coach.

- Otto Rehhagel –

1 European Championship - 2004; 1 UEFA CUP – Bayer Munchen – 1996;

1 CUP WINNERS CUP – Werder Bremen – 1992;

3 German Supercup - Werder Bremen – 1988, 1993, 1994;

Bundesliga - Kaiserslautern 1998 / Werder Bremen 1993, 1988);

2nd Bundesliga – Bielefield – 1980/ Werder Bremen - 1981 / Kaiserslautern 1997;

Career made of 1099 matches with 49% Win, 24% Draw, 27% Loss, GS 1,78 GA 1,3

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strength – Their stubborn coach’s ultra-defensive formation that pays-off if up front Gekas and company solve counter-attack situations.

Weaknesses – Playing exclusively on the counter exposes their weaknesses. Even if they drew all of the 3 games 0-0, that would probably not be enough to book a place on the second round. Even though Rehhagel has brought fresh legs to the Greek squad, still they are an old army without innovation.

Opportunities – “Ottocracy’s” catenaccio views paid off in the European Championships in 2004. I would not give the benefit of the doubt just because of such successful event because football suffers constant growth, but bookmakers are always willing to experiment.

Threats – Meaning that surely, dribbling from Messi and delivery from Argentinean strikers, quickness and finishing from Martins, Obinna & Company and finally dead ball situations and passing effectiveness from Lee Chung-yong, Park Ji-Sung and Park Chu-Young will smash Greece and make them squander the chances they would have to qualify to a later round of the competition.

FIFA WORLD RANKINGS

Position number 12 is occupied by Greece ahead of Egypt, USA, Chile, Serbia, Mexico and other inclusive World Cup squads and bellow fellow Russia, France, Croatia and England.

ACHIEVEMENTS

1 European Championship – 2004;

1 FIFA Fair Play Award – 2005

CASTROL INDEX

LAST 10 MATCHES

Greece 0-2 Senegal

Ukraine 0-1 Greece

Greece 0-0 Ukraine

Greece 2-1 Luxembourg

Greece 5-2 Latvia

Moldova 1-1 Greece

Switzerland 2-0 Greece

Greece 2-1 Israel

Israel 1-1 Greece

Greece 1-2 Switzerland

North Korea 2-2 Greece

Greece 0-2 Paraguay


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