Fernando Santos (Since July 2010)- The Portuguese manager was appointed as the national team coach in 2010.
Has created his own history with the Greek side, after losing only one match in charge and overseeing a national record of 17 unbeaten games. Along with this, Greece’s unblemished EURO 2012 qualifying record gave the Hellenic FA reason to extend his contract until the 2014 World Cup.
Giorgos Karagounis – best remembered for scoring the first goal of UEFA Euro 2004, a long range effort that helped his team to win the opening game. Plays Club football for Panathinaikos.
Giorgos Karagounis, Dimitris Salpigidis, Theofanis Gekas,
Possible starting XI: Kostas Chalkias; Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Avraam Papadopoulos, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Jose Holebas; Kostas Katsouranis, Giannis Maniatis, Giorgos Karagounis; Sotiris Ninis, Fanis Gekas, Georgios Samaras.
Greece’s squad features a couple holdovers from Euro 2004, midfielders Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis. The warhorses have 214 caps and 67 years between them. Though, besides that the team is getting younger. Two budding stars to watch are 20-year-old Schalke defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos (scouted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs) and 22-year-old attacking midfielder Sotiris Ninis. Ninis was left off the Euro 2008 squad played just 41 minutes in South Africa, but should, with Rehhagel no longer an impediment, finally receive his opportunity.
The Greeks will still park the bus. They will play a very compact and narrow defense in front of the net, though Santos has added a few twists. Their shape will be a 4-3-3 rather than a 4-5-1 or a 3-4-3. They should also hold the ball more and build up play rather than counterattacking swiftly, directly and rarely. A major problem in recent tournaments has been inflexibility. Their game is so much dependent on not conceding goals. When they fall behind they can’t transition and one thing for sure is: they crumble. It’s not clear whether they are changing, but with all factors constant, their game plan has already been read by many teams by now.
‘Parking the bus’ as it has been called in recent time, has worked out for some teams, most recently Chelsea, and with this year favoring the underdogs, never rule out Greece. Portugal I guess knows this too well.
With this group still a tough one to call; the teams that advance will be the ones that turn stalemates into wins. Greece, without a clear goal scorer, may be the team least equipped to do so. Most likely, expect draw’s from their matches. Though dangerous at set pieces, expect a few from them since they hardly attack.
Away from the football, i’m so in love with the Greece fans, especially their babes? You got to love them. Sad though, the Greek Legend, Angelos Charisteas, might have just played his last for the national team, remember that goal that downed Portugal in 2004?
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DID YOU KNOW?
Outside Euro 2004 the Greeks have lost 10/12 matches at major tournaments and not reached a knockout stage.